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"Whale" Crabs?

I received this via email today from Sushi-Ko's publicity agency.

"Whale" crabs, the fish monger's term for the elite and colossal
size soft shell crabs with a limited season, have arrived, as have the delicious
fresh Alaskan Spot Prawns. Considered a delicacy, Alaska's Spot Prawns are proudly
hailed for their sweet, delicate flavor and firm texture. Their robust size makes
them the largest shrimp in Alaska, with some reaching over five inches long.

At Sushi-Ko, guests can presently savor the Alaskan Spot Prawn sashimi with fresh
wasabi. The prawns arrive every Friday, making them available on weekends only
at the restaurant. The shrimp head is fried and the remainder is served as sashimi
priced at $11.

"In the spring the Whale Crabs first come up to us from Florida, and as temperatures
warm up, our supply is provided from Maryland waters and remain on our menu until
the fall," says Allen Smith, General Manager of Sushi-Ko.  "Crab connoisseurs
eagerly await their appearance each spring and these Whales are not easy to find."

Savory Whale crabs average $13.50 each (market price) and require special treatment
to maintain their intense flavors and delicate texture. Koji Terano and his
team at Sushi-Ko have mastered the correct cooking approach. They are prepared
"Kara-age". In this preparation the crab is lightly dusted with potato starch
and flash fried to achieve a light, crisp exterior.

It sounds like the best bet is to wait till later in the spring or early summer when the supply is coming from a more local source, but either way I might be heading to Sushi-Ko soon. These just sound yummy!

I wonder if these Whale crabs are a common thing at restaurants...From my reading, it seems like they are just very large soft crabs.



So, am I the only one who fails to understand why bigger = better? Why are large shrimp so much more expensive per pound than small shrimp? But large apples are not considered better than small apples. I would think that for large softshells, there is a larger amount of shell, too, so... And shrimp? If it's cleaned and tailed? Who cares? Or scallops? Am I missing some important gastronomic subtlety? I understand why baby vegetables are considered better - they usually have a more intense, less bitter flavor; is the reverse true for seafood?


With a crab or other shellfish, the surface area to volume falls as they get alrger. You get more insides in a larger crab. And since, to a point, the meat does not get tougher as the crab gets larger, you get more of the good stuff. On the other hand, it seems to me you get more of the roe and liver per crab in a smaller crab. Since I love that part, the smaller crabs have advantages.

People eat with their eyes so larger stuff sells for more. More demand=hogher relative price.

Larger crabs are rarer. If you harvest crabs randomly, you will be getting a certain percetage of crabs that are large and then getting smaller crabs that would otherwise get larger. As crabs get bigger, they grow at a slower rate (again its that surface area to volume thing). As we harvest more crabs, the porportion of crabs that reach collosal size is smaller.

Last reason I can come up with on short notice is that a larger crab requires less labor on the part of the diner. The diner is thus willing to pay more for the crab if all they value is the amount of crab eaten.

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