Crab roe is the pinnacle of roe food, which has found great prominence in both Eastern and Western cuisine. People who are not familiar with the term roe–hang on, because we are about to dive deep into the world of roe. These are basically the ripe egg masses present in the ovaries of crabs, fish, sea urchins, scallops, shrimp, and other edible sea animals.
So why do we need them on our platters in the first place?
Just like birds’ eggs, these masses are also loaded with lots of nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids. The texture and supreme taste add more value to these little bags of energy. Markets these days are flooded with various categories of roe, from the roe of salmon to hake and lumpsucker, but this article specializes in crab roe. It has a distinct appearance and flavor, which makes it great for many fine recipes: whether it be sushi rolls or seafood paella.
What is Crab Roe?
To put it in simple terms, crab roe is the egg masses present inside a crab’s body. The type of roe varies from hard to soft. Crab roe is shiny, orange in color, and very aesthetically appealing. It’s also known by the name of crab caviar. When roe is mixed with salt for preservation, it turns into caviar.
Roe obtained from a female sea creature is soft in texture, whereas the sperm milts obtained from a male animal are harder in texture. It is not easy to pick roe from the crab–you need to be a pro at disassembling the body to do that. The easiest way is to buy the store-packed crab roe, either in fresh, frozen or canned form.
There are several kinds of crabs available for eating. Snow crabs, dungeon, or blue crabs are a few of the most used edible varieties of crab. Roe obtained from blue crab is termed as blue crab roe, and it tastes and looks different from something like she-crab roe, which appears more mustard in color.
‘She-crabs,’ as the name indicates, are female crabs, and the roe obtained from their bodies is she-crab roe. Mature she-crabs have attached roe inside. Therefore, it is advised to hunt for immature ones for an easier job of picking the crab roe out of them. These egg-like masses are bright orange in color. She-crab roe is the most commonly used variety of crab roe added to soups, appetizers, and even seafood paella.
It has a soft and rubbery texture. When blended or cooked in a liquid, it dissolves easily. She-crab roe can also be used in its uncooked form; you can even use it as a nice topping or garnishing due to its shiny colored appearance. Or, try it for layering or coating evening snack rolls like salmon rolls or luscious sushi.
Crab Roe Substitutes
Let’s say you don’t find crab roe of any type in the stores nearby, or you cannot get your hands on a crab with roe in them. Well, there are still wide and endless possibilities for you to enjoy the goodness of roe. As we have mentioned here, roe is present in most edible seafood animals.
You can switch crab for other sources of roe as well. The question here is which other types of egg masses can replace or substitute the crab roe, in particular? Salmon roe is one good option which resembles she crab-roe. However, lobster and sea urchin roe are also good varieties.
Crab roe is not only a delight for the taste buds—it has added benefits that make it popular in various cuisines in most parts of the world. Some of the advantages of adding some roe into your diet are as follows:
1. Nutritional Value: Like in the case of terrestrial animal’s eggs, crab roe is crab’s eggs. Even when unfertilized, they are loaded with nutrients. A meal cooked with a good amount of roe can provide all sorts of macro-nutrients, including good fats, carbs, and proteins. It’s also a good source of various vitamins. 80 grams of crab’s roe provides about 100 calories, along with fat (6g), carbohydrates (8g), and proteins (4g). So, it has a balanced mix of important macro-nutrients. Who knew these tiny crab eggs would contain so many healthy nutrients?
2. Omega-3: Like all types of fish, crabs are a good source of omega-3. Omega-3 is essential for better growth and strengthens the functioning of the brain. That is why seafood rich in omega-3 is recommended for routine meals. Roe from crabs is also loaded with omega-3, which amps up its nutritional value.
3. Low cholesterol: Despite having a good amount of fats, crab roe does not contain high traces of cholesterol. The fat present in the roe is mostly unsaturated triglycerides, which are not harmful to health. In fact, low cholesterol levels are good for patients suffering from special conditions like high blood pressure, cardiovascular complexities, etc. Adding some of this roe into your meal will guarantee good energy without cholesterol.
4. Flavorsome: Besides good health, crab roe also ensures great flavor. The texture is unique both in appearance and feel. It adds a soft and chunky touch to snacks, appetizers, or soups. Try using roe from fresh crabs to infuse better taste into the recipe. Use a combination of spices or condiments which will best complement the roe’s taste.
5. Great for metabolism: Every healthy meal is good for metabolism. But roe is one step ahead when it comes to driving the body towards an active metabolism. It’s so full of energy and the nutrients that even consuming a little bit can spark up energy levels in the body. It is good for growing kids or people healing from certain types of weaknesses. Add about ¼ cup of roe into soup for better health.
Crab Roe Recipe
Extensive use of roe in your food enhances your omega-3 intake. So, it is always great to pair any seafood recipe with some crab roe. Whether you are trying an appetizer or cooking an entrée, adding a bit of roe will prove to be extremely healthy for you and your family. Here is a good way to incorporate a healthy amount of roe into your daily diet.
In the mood for soup? Enjoy this delicious she-crab soup with chunky and flaky crab meat mixed with roe, blended broth, and cream. This warming soup can be served with freshly baked bread of your choice.
Prep time: 15 minutes
- 6 live, hard-shell sooks (female blue crabs with roe)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup finely minced shallots
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1-quart half-and-half cream
- 1 ½ tablespoon dry sherry
- 1 1/2 cups picked jumbo lump crab meat
- Chopped fresh chives (optional)
Fill a pasta pot with water up to 2/3 full and heat it until it boils. Place 2 crabs in the pot and cook for 3 minutes, then transfer them to a colander. Rinse the hot crabs under cold water and let them sit.
Repeat the same steps with the remaining crabs. Once the crabs are cooled, remove the bottom shell of the crab and pull off the carapace. Pick all the roe from the crabs and separate the crab meat from the legs. Pour 3 cups of water in a pot and add crab legs, carapaces and crab bodies. Let it boil and cook for 10 minutes, then strain this broth into a Dutch oven.
Bring the broth to a simmer. Meanwhile, mix flour with 3 tablespoons broth in a small bowl. Blend the remaining broth with the crab’s roe in a blender until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture.
Melt butter in the same Dutch oven on medium heat. Add salt, black pepper, and shallot. Sauté this for 4 minutes until soft. Stir in half-and-half cream, 1 tablespoon of sherry, and the blended broth mixture. Cover the Dutch oven.
Once the soup reaches a simmer, decrease the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Now, add the separated crab meat and cook for 2 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper. Serve the soup with 1.5 teaspoons of roe and chives on top.
With this luscious crab roe recipe, we can conclude that you can give any recipe the ‘roe touch,’ either through topping it with uncooked or cooked roe. This article has brought you a few of the many ideas in which crab roe can be used around the world.
There is not only diversity in its use, but also the ability to choose between the various types of crab roe. You can even substitute this with other readily-available, edible roe. Be creative and enjoy the good flavors up to their full potential.