Blue crabs (aka Atlantic blue crab or Chesapeake blue crab) are a small crab quite popular on the East Coast, where they’re harvested. Blue crabs that have discarded their shells through molting, are known as Soft-Shell crabs, an American seafood delicacy. There is a short window (about a day) when the new shell has not yet hardened and is paper-thin. Soft-shell crabs are almost completely edible and need only have a few parts removed to be ready to eat.
Florida Stone Crab
Because their diet consists primarily of clams, scallops and conchs, Stone crabs have very large claws that they use to crush mollusk shells for food. To ensure a sustainable harvest, only the claws can be sold, because they regenerate. One claw is removed when the crabs are caught, and they are returned to the ocean to regenerate their claws. Their beautiful shells, yellowish pink with striking dark black tips, hold sweet, succulent meat. Sold fresh and pre-cooked, Stone crab claws can be sautéed or steamed, but they are best served chilled.
Harvested along the East Coast of North America from Newfoundland to Florida, Jonah crabs are among the smallest crab varieties eaten in the US. Jonah crab claws are often sold as “cocktail” claws, with most of the shell removed for easy access to the meat.
The largest and most desirable of the crabs commonly consumed in the US, King crabs are harvested in the North Pacific and Bering Sea. They are prized for their sweet, tender leg meat that can be removed in large, impressive pieces.
Likely the smallest of the crabs commonly eaten in the US, Peekytoe crabs (aka Atlantic rock crabs, bay crabs, picky-toe crabs) get their unusual name from the way the tips of their feet angle inward. Because these crabs are so small, with correspondingly tiny claws, they are generally only sold as meat, which is highly prized by chefs for its clean, sweet flavor, delicate texture, and pinkish color.
Like King crabs, Snow crabs have very long legs that provide a lot of their meat, which is a little more fibrous than King crab, but very tasty. Because their legs are thinner and less impressive than king crab legs, they are less popular with restaurants and thus more affordable for you. Snow crab legs are commonly sold as clusters – groups of legs attached to a portion of the body (which also contains tasty body meat). Snow crab claws are small, just the right size for a bite or two. They’re commonly sold with part of the shell already removed, making it easy to pick out the tasty nugget of crabmeat inside. The pincers are left on for a more elegant look, and they can be used as a handle for dipping the meat.