The blue crab is a swimming crustacean native to the Eastern Atlantic coast estuaries. The crab meat is highly regarded in the United States for its delicious, sweet flavor. It is one of the most recognizable species in the Chesapeake Bay.
Scientific name: Callinectes sapidus. Family- Portunidae. They are also known by names as Atlantic blue crab, jimmies, and Chesapeake blue crab.
|Blue crab- Callinectes sapidus.|
The blue crab is a fast-swimming crustacean that is supported by a pair of paddle-shaped rear swimming legs. Its shell (carapace) is smooth and olive-green in color. The brilliant blue claws in mature females feature red tips. Adult males can reach up to 9 inches in diameter and have a lifespan of up to 3 years.
Males (Jimmies) feature narrow, inverted T-shaped abdomen, while mature females (sooks) have a broad, rounded abdomen.
Blue crabs grow continuously and molt several times during their life span. A soft-shelled crab that has just molted and has an almost transparent body.
Blue crabs live in the sea, rivers, and brackish waters along the coastal shelf and estuaries. They are omnivores and feed on nearly anything they can find, plant and animal detritus and clams, oysters, mussels, smaller crustaceans, freshly dead fish, etc.
Blue crabs exhibit unique reproductive behavior. They mate from May through October in the brackish waters. Before mating, males cradle a soft-shelled female in their legs, carrying her for several days waiting she molts. After mating, the male continues to cradle the female until her shell hardens.
Females develop an external egg mass (bright-orange sponge) beneath their abdomen. In about two weeks, larvae are released into the waters. Larvae transported to sea waters but return back to estuaries and rivers to develop into full-size adult crab. Their lifespan is about 3 years.
Blue crab, being a crustacean, is a low calorie, low fat, white meat seafood. 13 oz (100g) of its claw meat holds just 87 calories, and 1.08g of fats.
Their lean, white meat is an excellent source of protein; composes 18.06 g/100g (32% of RDI) that is complete in all essential amino acids in a healthy proportion.
Research studies suggest that eating seafood can decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity and hypertension. Seafood is low in saturated fat and higher in “heart-healthy” polyunsaturated fat, including omega-3 fatty acids.
American Heart Association recommends seafood for its wide range of nutrients, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals which have important functions in the body.
Blue crab meat is a good source of folates, niacin, vitamin B6, thiamin, and riboflavin.
Invertebrates, like crab, are at the bottom of the food chain and concentrate very small amounts of heavy metals like mercury. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that pregnant women eat at least 8 ounces and up to 12 ounces (340 grams) of a variety of seafood lower in mercury a week.
Crabs are very rich source of minerals including iron (9 % RDI), selenium (68 % RDI), iodine, calcium, zinc (32 % RDI), potassium, phosphorus (33% RDI), and magnesium.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percent of RDA|
|Total Fat||1.08 g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber||0 g||0%|
|Omega-3 fats (PUFA)|
|EPA (20:5 n-3)||0.17 g||--|
|DPA (22:5 n-3)||0 g||--|
|DHA (22:6 n-3)||0.15 g||--|
Always buy a live crab so that you can be absolutely sure of freshness. It is normally cooked by dropping into boiling water. Alternately put the live crab in cold water and slowly bring the water to boiling point.
Keep it in wrapped in a damp cloth inside a refrigerator.
Once cooked, Its claws and shell turn maroon, irrespective of the original color.
Here are some serving ideas:
|Blue crab- Callinectes sapidus. Photo courtesy Michelle|
Crab mornay, in which the meat is combined with a gruyere cheese sauce enriched with sherry and mushrooms.
Crabmeat is excellent in fishcakes such as Thai fishcakes.
It also makes excellent soups.
Soft-shell crabs may be lightly coated in flour and deep fried. Moheche fritte (molted crab) is a Venetian specialty in which crab are soaked in beaten eggs before being fried.
Allergy to crustaceans may appear in 1% of the population and is more common in teenage and adult life than very early childhood.
Many allergic reactions to seafood are mild and cause hives (urticaria), tingling of the throat and mouth, swelling (angioedema), and/or gut reactions (vomiting, diarrhea).
Methyl mercury levels in European sea bass are 0.66 Parts Per Million (PPM). Accordingly, the U.S FDA final guidelines on how much fish expectant as well as breastfeeding mothers can eat, along with lists of specific options that are safe or should be avoided, places blue crab in the best choice category. By this yardstick, they can consume eat 2-3 servings per week. (Medical disclaimer).
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Further reading (Links opens in new window):
Chesapeakebay blue crab program-Callinectes sapidus.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.