Crabs Currents

There are plenty of debates about what is the best crab species in the world. Some believe the red king crab called Kamchatka crab or what American’s call it, Alaskan king crab is the most meaty but is the best tasting.

The king Crab species is native to the Bering Sea and if you visit the Kamchatka Peninsula it lies between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Sea of Okhotsk to the west. Immediately offshore along the Pacific coast of the peninsula runs the 10,000 metre deep Kuril–Kamchatka Trench. Think about that.

Kamchatka is a remote place and the peninsula is picturesque perfect but the problem there today is trying to find one to eat. The annual fight over quotas was intensified by the fact they are becoming so small.

In 2001, Kamchatka’s fishing fleet hauled in 60,000 tons of king crab. But with scientists warning that the population was on the brink of extinction, this year’s regional quota was for only 900 tons of crabs within 12 miles of shore and 1,100 tons beyond that. The king crab is still the most lucrative sea creature here, selling for almost $5 a pound on average in Japan, China and the United States.

Only the deepest of these creatures survive in the most tortuous cold water currents and snow fall mixed with harsh Siberian cold brash winds. The fact that Kamchatka is so remote often makes it impossible for crab lovers to taste it fresh. The majority if not almost all of it are frozen or packed in tin cans. Now that’s a crying shame when you think about the fact that Japanese harvest some of the finest crabs on this planet and they are almost always sold alive.

Japanese crabs are found in the east, west sides of Japan, and north side up towards Hokkaido, not forgetting that Japan is an island. But one cannot talk of local foods without discussing the Sea of Japan and the Tsushima Current is where the warm western waters meet the cold. According to records, the whole process of water entering through the Tsushima Strait and exiting through the Tsugaru Strait into the Pacific Ocean is estimated to take approximately two months.

Japanese people love crabs and a large amount of crabs are landed in Hokkaido, drawing many people from outside of Hokkaido. There are mainly four kinds of crabs in Hokkaido; hanasaki crab, hairy crab, snow crab, and king crab, and they all taste delicious. Hanasaki crab is valuable, as it can be landed only in the Nemuro region in a specific period of time.

The kanougani crab feast on the phytoplankton and plankton that breeds where warm and cold waters meet. Due to this rich dense seawater many kinds of fish gather to follow the feast. Ishikawa prefecture is just opposite the Sea of Japan, and since long time ago the area has been blessed with the snow crab as well. There it is called “zuwai-gani” in Japanese, and is caught at the wide range of the sea. In 2006, the zuwai-gani caught in Ishikawa were named “Kanou-gani” as a brand, which literally means snow crab from the Kaga and Noto regions.

“Hairy crab” has strong sweetness and steady texture. It’s usually boiled with some salt or broiled. The features of snow crab include elegant sweetness and sophisticated taste. “King crab” is characterized by its large size. It is called the kind of winter dishes because of its elegant and sweet flesh.

Everyone should shell crabs by oneself and that’s why Japanese people become silent once they start eating crabs.

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