Blue crab (Callinectes sapidus
) and related varieties belong to the genus Callinectes
. They are saltwater crustaceans that inhabit shallow waters and have five pairs of legs (eight legs and two claws that protect them from predators). Their bodies are covered by large exoskeletons, wider than they are long, in colors that vary by species (gray, blue or green). They have small abdomens and their heads and thoraces are united in one structure called a cephalothorax. They use their claws to catch and eat tiny snails as well as other small carrion and invertebrates.
crabs abound on the east and west coasts of Mexico.
can be harvested from fisheries or cultivated using aquaculture methods. The former include crabs that live along tropical and temperate coasts, in bays, coastal lagoons, estuaries and mouths of rivers.
can be carried out in floating wood cages, located in natural waters close to areas of habitation or in concrete pools and ponds. This practice produces soft-shell crabs, fresh specimens that have recently grown and molted their protective exoskeletons.
as an industry is more developed along the North Pacific, Northern Gulf, Central Gulf, Southern Gulf and Yucatán (specifically Campeche) regions.
can be harvested from spring to summer, but the best specimens are obtained from May to September.
are low in cholesterol and high in proteins, vitamins A and D, phosphorus, calcium and iodine. Their taste is subtly sweet.
are served whole as well both fresh and frozen (with or without shells, i.e., the shelled meat). Whole, crabs are a complement to rice-, pasta- and stew-based dishes, or served as a base for broths and soups. The meat is used in cocktails, alongside other seafood, or as an extra ingredient in salads. They are a base for stuffing antojitos
, chiles and wheat-flour empanadas; they are also available canned. Soft-shell crabs can be breaded, or battered (capeadas
) and then fried.