Market Name: Spanner crab
Scientific Name: Ranina ranina
Common Name: Spanner crab, frog crab, red frog crab, Kona crab
Flavor: Mild
Texture: Delicate

Spanner crab is a newcomer to the U.S. market, exported from northeastern Australia for the white-tablecloth-dining market. Because of its limited and recent distribution in this country, the crab does not yet appear on the USDA Fish List. Though Australian supplies dominate the domestic market, Hawaii also has a commercial fishery for the species, whose range extends through the Indo-Pacific region in sandy coastal waters. The oddlooking animal bears names reflecting its frog-like shape and large front pincers, which resemble spanners — or wrenches. Spanner crab is a good choice for buyers concerned about sustainability, as the selective harvesting method eliminates bycatch. In Australia, the crabs are trapped in baited net bags known as dillies. In Hawaii, where the species is called Kona crab or “Päpa’i kualoa,” fishermen employ flat, circular nets baited and laid along the seafloor. Australian spanners are available year-round except for a month beginning at the end of November, when they spawn. Most of the spanner crabs harvested Down Under are exported as live product. The remainder is cooked and sold locally.

Product Profile:
The spanner crab’s shell color ranges from burnt orange to brick red even when uncooked and turns a brighter orange after cooking. The raw flesh is translucent and becomes bright white when cooked. The meat is soft and moist, with a slightly sweet and delicate flavor.

You Should Know:
Given its hard shell and low meat yield, spanner crab is best used for picked meat rather than whole presentation.

Cooking Tips:
The most common way to cook whole spanner crab is boiling or steaming for 12 or 13 minutes. Afterward, immerse immediately in cold water to stop further cooking. The picked meat can be used in stir-fries, salads, sandwiches, or as an addition to pasta dishes and risottos. It also works well as a filling for ravioli and Asian-style dumplings or won tons.

Cooking Methods: Boil,Poach,Steam

Substitutions: Blue swimming crab, Crayfish, Spiny lobster

Primary Product Forms:
Fresh: Hand-picked meat

Global Supply: