Prawn and crab

A photo of Zuwaigani nigiri sushi
Snow crab (Zuwaigani)

Snow crab (Zuwaigani)

【Nigiri sushi: Ebi/Kani】
What is Zuwaigani?
Zuwaigani live in the Japan Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. The shells of males are about 15 cm in width, and the females’ shells are 7 to 8 cm wide. The names of these crabs differ depending on region. Males are called Matsuba-gani or Echizen-gani while females are called Seiko-gani or Kobako-gani.

What does Zuwaigani (Snow crab) nigiri sushi taste like?
Since Zuwaigani is not regular Edomae sushi material, it isn’t always chosen by sushi chef. Although the leg part of male crab is preferred as sushi ingredient because it has tender yet fine texture and distinctive sweet taste.

Zuwaigani contains high levels of free amino acids. There are sweet taste component in glycine or alanine, umami taste component in glutamic acid, and bitter taste component in arginine. Because all these are balanced well, they produce such unique delicious taste.

The voracious appetite of crab-loving Japanese cannot be satisfied only with zuwaigani caught in Japan. Therefore, large quantities of zuwaigani are imported from Russia, the east coast of Canada, and Alaska. The state of Alaska, one of the major producers of zuwaigani, is known for its strict fishing regulations to protect the resource. There are size regulations, and small fish must be released. As a result, Alaska caught fish are generally regarded as large and plump. Even if female crabs, which are highly prized in Japan, are caught, they must be released to protect the resource.

The black grains on the shell, incidentally, are the eggs laid by Notostomum cyclostomum (Kanibiru). Kanibiru is a type of leech that attaches itself to fish and sucks their body fluids. They do not attach to crabs to suck their body fluids, but simply choose the shell as a place to lay their eggs instead of a rocky place. Notostomum cyclostomum itself will die if boiled or frozen. And the abundance of Notostomum cyclostomum eggs is a sign that the crab has been molting for a long time, which is a sign that the crab is tasty.

Also called Tanner crab or Queen crab.

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List of Prawn (Ebi) and Crab (Kani)

(Revision date: January 9, 2024)

Main production area

Hyougo Tottori Ishikawa Fukui

Famous production area

Fukui (Echizengani) Ishikawa (Kanougani) Tottori (Matsubagani) Taiza (Taizagani)