Japanese Crab Species 1: Snow Crab/Zuwagani

Snow Crabs, or Zuwagani in Japanese are very popular not only in Japan, but also in Russia, Canada and many other countries.

In Japan, they are also known under the following names: Matsubagani, Echizengani and Yoshigani.
The females are also called Seikogani, Megani or Koubakogani.
They are caught mainly in Autumn and Winter.
Their number have decreased in the Japan seas down to a yearly catch of 5,000 tonnes while 60,000 tonnes are imported from Russia and Canada.


(Male Snow Crab)


(Female snow Crab)

Male and female snow crabs are equally succulent, but the males contain more flesh and are accordingly more expensive.

The “thorns” of a male snow crab are bigger.

The “teeth” of a male snow crab are triangular in a seesaw shape.
The female “teeth” are in a straight line.

The underbelly of a female snow crabis flatish.


When buying a female (10 tmes as cheap) snow crab, choose a specimen with as few eggs as possible. Above speciman just has too many!


A female snow crab should contain plenty of succulent orange egg sacs (the eggs not yet “born”). Otherwise, there is very little reason to buy any!

Crabs can be eaten in many ways, even raw, but my favourites are on sushi!


Male Snow crab leg Sushi Nigiri and Female snow crab Sushi Nigiri and its egg sacs!

Suwagani/Snow Crab legs, when lightly boiled can make for beautiful sushi nigiri.

Cheaper varieties can still make fr some remarkable gunkan sushi combining the boiled white flesh and “miso”/brains!

If the Japanese can get their hands on the whole crab, will simply boil it and eat the meat directly out of the shell with a sweet vinegar dressing.
As for the “miso”/brains they will be served in the shell heated again with a big helping of Japanese sake!

Now, live snow crabs make for extravagant sashimi!

The same can savoured in shabu-shabu!

Italian restaurants in Japan regularly serve it in pasta!

2 thoughts on “Japanese Crab Species 1: Snow Crab/Zuwagani”

  1. Last November, I spent several wonderful days in Shizuoka Prefecture, primarily in Shizuoka-shi, but I did get to a few other destinations, including the lovely tea museum. One night in Shizuoka, I had the most astonishing dinner of many courses of crab — hot, cold, cooked, raw. It was an amazing meal. Unfortunately, I was alone, and no one in the restaurant spoke English. My Japanese is limited to a few dozen words, none of them related to crab, so I have only the haziest idea of what I was eating. However, some of the pictures they showed me seem to match images on your site, which not only helped me identify the crab, but also brought back the lovely memory of that visit.

    I have looked at a large number of your posts and recipes, and I’m delighted with this wonderful site. I have just book-marked it, as the Japanese recipes in particular are of interest (not that I don’t love French food, too). Thank you for the amazing amount of work you have put into this. I shall be back, often.



    1. Dear Cynthia!
      Greetings! G’day!
      We do have a lot of Ozzies not only visiting our city but living there, and would you believe it playing cricket!
      I think I know wher you ate crab. Wasn’t it near Shzuoka City railway Station?
      Thank you so much for your very kind comments!
      If you wish to a particular part of Jpanese gastronomy covered, do tell me and I will be happy to oblige, the more for it that it is easy in this gastronomic area of Japan!
      Best reards,


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