Eating the whole crab

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
14 November 2007, at 12:00am

NORWAY - The King crab can now be eaten without removing the shell if it is handled and prepared right after moulting when the shell is completely soft.

The shell and crab can then be consumed once the mouth, stomach, intestine and gills have been removed.

Soft-shell crab is prepared at a Japanese restaurant in Oslo.
The king crab creeps out of its old shell (above). The new shell is silky and elastic.

Soft-shell crab is an exclusive product at Asian restaurants, and soft-shell crabs can achieve five times the price than the equivalent crab with a hard shell.

Taste testing

Soft-shell King crabs have been tested at two Japanese restaurants in Oslo. The crab was prepared using three different cooking methods: deep-frying, baking and pan-frying. It was served as a separate dish and in a roll with rice (Maki sushi).

"The feedback about both taste and appearance were extremely positive, but the shell was perceived as tough. If this can be improved, this product has the qualities to attract an extremely high price," says Fiskeriforskning Senior Scientist Kjell Ø. Midling.


The king crab creeps out of its old shell (above). The new shell is silky and elastic.

The day before moulting occurs, the crabs pump up naturally by swallowing water and stopping moving. In this way, it is easy to distinguish these crabs from the other crabs.

All muscles become fluid so the crab can moult. The crab is killed straight after moulting before the new shell has a chance to harden.

Further work

The results to date show that taste-wise the King crab is suitable for production of soft-shell crab. Work is now underway to develop methods and testing procedures to prevent the shell becoming tough.

The new products will be tested in restaurants. If these tests produce positive results, commercialisation of the activity can be investigated.

Better exploitation

The King crab is now established in the Northern Regions. The quota for male crabs in the period from September 10, 2007 to January 31, 2008 is 300,000.

Fiskeriforskning has earlier developed a concept for capturing and fattening wild King crabs with a low yield through capture-based aquaculture. This makes the production of soft-shell King crabs possible and can add significant value to catches.

The project is being financed by the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs.