Both stone crabs and Alaskan king crabs are very popular choices among seafood lovers. But what is the difference between the two? Here's what you need to know.
Did you know that crab meat is low in fat and a good source of protein? Crabs, and other marine creatures, are high in minerals such as selenium and other nutrients.
Although most of us enjoy crispy crab cakes with a spicy cheese sauce, there's no denying that cracking into some butter-drenched stone crab or king crab legs is a satisfying experience. Although they both go well with melted garlic butter and lemon wedges, there are some key differences between the two crab species.
Stone crabs and Alaskan king crabs are two of the most popular seafood options. What's the difference between the two, though? Here's what you need to know about it.
Differences Between Stone Crabs and Alaskan King Crabs
Crabmeat is, without a doubt, one of the most delicious and tasty meats available. And, of course, size, habitat, price, and availability all play a part in our menu choice.
Stone Crab Habitat
You can find stone crabs in both shallow and deep habitats. Sandy or muddy bottoms, rock formations, and seagrass beds are among their favored habitats.
The stone crab is native to an area of the Atlantic Ocean that stretches from the northeastern United States to Central America. It's also present in portions of the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern United States' saltwater marshes, mainly being South Carolina and Georgia. The Gulf provides a large portion of the stone crab eaten in the United States.
Alaskan King Crab Habitat
Alaskan King crabs are being fished off the cold Pacific and Arctic ocean waters, specifically the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia. They have since introduced king crabs to the northern Atlantic Ocean around Russia.
They live in deep ocean water. Every year, king crabs migrate to shallower sea waters to mate.
Stone Crab Body and Claw Size
The stone crab shell measures approximately 3.5 inches long and 4 inches high. Stone crabs have large, unevenly sized pincers with black tips. Females have a larger shell, but males usually have larger claws.
In most cases, only the claws are consumed, as there is not much meat in the body.
King Crab Body and Claw Size
The most apparent distinction between the two crab species is size, with king crabs being the larger specimen. The largest of them could weigh up to 20 pounds and span five feet, with legs averaging 6 pounds.
The body meat of the king is slightly more flaky than the meat found in the leg.
The Harvesting of Stone Crab
A baited trap is the primary harvest tool used in both commercial and recreational stone crab fishing. The majority of fishers use traps. Traps are set up in long lines of up to 100 traps in the commercial stone crab fishery, with each trap buoyed and baited.
The claws of the Stone Crab are the only part that is commonly consumed. Stone crab claws can regenerate. Fishers always capture stone crabs, collect one of their claws, and release the crab alive back into the sea to regenerate. That way, overharvesting of the species is avoided.
Stone crab delivery is made to the docks during the stone crab season. To keep the meat from sticking to the inside wall of the shell, stone crab claws are fried in boiling water directly after harvesting, on the boat, or at dockside.
Claws are sold raw, cooked, or frozen. They are available in three weight classes:
- light (up to 3 ounces)
- heavy (between 3 and 5 ounces)
- jumbo (5 ounces and up)
But, how many crab claws is enough? That depends of course, but a pound of crab claws would typically feed one human.
Alaskan King Crab Harvesting
Alaskan king crab fishing takes place during October and January off Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The commercial harvest takes place over a relatively brief period of time, and the catch is exported worldwide.
Commercial fishing boats range from 39 to 246 feet and are outfitted with hydraulic systems to raise the catch.
Fishers use a box-shaped trap known as a pot, made of a steel frame covered in nylon mesh. Each pot weighs approximately 700 lb, and a ship can transport 150–300 pots. Fish, normally herring or codfish, are put inside as bait and are then dropped to the seafloor, where the king crabs live.
The crabs are taken up to the ship deck and stored in a holding tank alive until the boat hits the shore and sells them.
How Does a Stone Crab Taste?
Stone crabs, known for their incredible taste, are one of Florida's most common delicacies that can be enjoyed fresh during the winter months.
Stone Crab has tender and sweet meat with a distinct flavor, rendering it ideal as an entree or a main course.
Stone crabs are best eaten cold. Stone crab meat may be used in a variety of recipes or consumed on its own. The latter is frequently accompanied by mustard, mayonnaise, or butter sauce.
How Does Alaskan King Crab Taste?
The Alaska king crab is much larger than any other crab. Despite this, it appears much more fragile and soft. In terms of taste and meatiness, Alaska king crabmeat is unlike any other crab meat on the planet.
Claws from king crabs are among the most popular, but they are also one of the rarest available. Though king crab tastes much better than most other varieties of crab, there is not much of a discernible flavor difference between claw and leg meat.
Claw meat has a more intense version of the traditional soft, salty crab taste. As a result, claw meat is ideally fit for seafood dishes such as quiches and chowders.
Why Is Stone Crab one of the Most Expensive?
Stone crab claws are among the most expensive seafood available. A pound of claws will cost up to $70 at a restaurant, based on their size.
A pound of claws will cost twice as much as a pound of Alaskan King crab legs. The labor-intensive method of capturing these crabs contributes to their high price.
Why Is Alaskan King Crab So Expensive?
Alaskan king crabbing is risky. The crab is collected in the fall, over a span of 2-3 months, in Alaska's rugged, frozen waters.
It is scarce because a quota limits production and every crab caught reaches legal size only after around 7 years.
As a result of these factors, the Alaskan king crab will cost you about $40 per pound.
Watch Your Claws and Take a Side Step
Crabmeat is valued for its soft, delicate, and sweet taste and is used in many cuisines worldwide.
Crabs are much more adaptable than many people know. They may be boiled or steamed or turned into delicious crab cakes. However, they are also delicious in soups, stews, chowders, cataplanas, and other delicious dishes.