Crab dishes

In Japan, large crabs that can be harvested in the sea are popular as high-class winter foods. In addition to being used as an ingredient in hot pot dishes, it is also used as an ingredient in various Japanese menus. There are also restaurants that specialize in crabs, and usually there is a large crab model at the entrance. If you go to a specialty restaurant, you can taste various menus using crabs, and you can also compare several kinds of crabs. When eating at home, we often buy frozen food at a food supermarket and cook it in a hot pot.


What is Crab dishes and is it okay for me to eat them?

Materials of Crab dishes

Other ingredients depend on the dishes.

Gluten-free Low-gluten Wheat-free Low FODMAPs High FODMAPs
with Beef with Pork with Daily with Egg for Vegetarian
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Crab is said to be the king of winter taste

Crab fishing is usually done in the winter of November to March in Japan, although it varies depending on the kinds. Some of them are frozen and imported from overseas, so we can basically eat them all year round. Crab dishes have the image of winter. In recent years, the catch has decreased and the price has increased, making it a high-class food.

Kinds of Crabs

There are mainly four kinds of crabs that can be eaten in Japan.

Zuwai-gani (Snow crab)

The snow crab lives in the deep sea with a depth of 200 m or more. The size is different between male and female. Males have a maximum shell size of about 14 cm, and when extended from the tip of the leg to the tip, the larger one is about 70 cm. The name is different depending on the place where it was landed, and it is sometimes called Matsuba-gani or Echizen-gani.

Females are half the size of males and are distributed separately from males under the names Seko-gani and Oya-gani. It is said that the taste is better for males.


It lives in a place deeper than the snow crab. Since it is not suitable for freezing, it is mainly eaten raw. Only males are in circulation as females are banned from fishing.

Kegani (Horsehair crab)

It is mainly caught in Hokkaido all year round. The maximum size of the shell is 12 cm. Because it is small, it has a small portion to eat, so it is used for salt boiled and grilled foods. The feature is that the amount of crab butter is large.

Taraba-gani (King crab)

Although it is also found in the sea near Japan, what is eaten in Japan is landed in Alaska and Russia, boiled, frozen and imported. The maximum size of the shell is 25 cm, and it is as large as 1 m when spread from the tip of the leg to the tip, and because it has a lot of body, it is used as a hot pot or grilled crab.

Crab dishes

Kanisuki (Sukiyaki-style crab and vegetable hot pot)

It is a dish in which crab, vegetables, mushrooms, and tofu are put in a soup made from soy sauce, cooking liquor, kelp, sugar, etc. and eaten while boiling. Finally, rice and eggs may be added to the soup that has the flavor of crabs and vegetables, and then eaten as a porridge. King crab and snow crab are usually used.
Wheat is contained in the raw material of soy sauce, and ethanol is contained in cooking liquor.

Yakigani (Grilled crab)

It is a dish of crab legs and shells baked over an open flame. Leg meat is often eaten with seasonings such as salt and soy sauce. The internal organs of the crab are called crab butter or Kanimiso, and the whole shell is baked and cooked before eating. Crab butter can be eaten with crabs other than king crab.


Chawanmushi with crab leg meat as an ingredient. Please see this article about chawanmushi.


Chawanmushi is a custard-like dish, in which beaten eggs and dashi are put in a cylindrical cup, and then ingredients ar[…]

Sunomono (Vinegared food)

Raw cucumber is added to the boiled leg meat of the crab and seasoned with vinegar. Sunomono is a typical Japanese menu.


There are Nigiri-zushi and Chirashi-zushi with boiled meat of the crab.


Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish that combines rice and seafood. There are various types of sushi such as hand-pr[…]


Sometimes we eat raw crab meat. However, this is limited to fresh ones. It can only be tasted at some restaurants during the time when crabs are harvested. Zuwai-gani and Benizuwai-gani are used.

Try to eat Crab dishes

How much?


Where can I eat them?

  • Specialty restaurants of crab dishes
  • Local inns where crabs can be harvested

For people with dietary restrictions

For gluten-free people

Crabs are gluten-free, but some dishes may contain wheat ingredients. In the case of crab suki, wheat is used as a raw material for soy sauce used for soup stock, but the proteins contained in materials are not left after being decomposed during the brewing process. It’s also used in small amounts, so it’s okay to eat it unless you have serious celiac disease.

For Muslims

Pork is rarely used in crab-based dishes, but be careful, just in case. Also, in Japanese food, cooking sake may be used for seasoning. Ethanol contained in cooking liquor evaporates during the cooking process and rarely remains in the dish.

Japanese writer’s comment for Crab dishes

The deliciousness of crab dishes is proportional to the price. Most cheap crab dishes use imported frozen king crab. If you want to eat really delicious crab dishes, we recommend going to an inn near the fishing port where crabs are landed, such as the San’in region and the Hokuriku region, during the winter months.

There are many hot springs in these regions, and you can stay at a Japanese-style inn and enjoy gorgeous crab dishes and hot springs at the same time. Hot spring inns and hotels purchase crabs directly from local fishing ports according to the number of guests, so you can eat fresh crabs at a relatively low price.