Can You Eat A Giant Japanese Spider Crab?

The Japanese spider crab is a rather menacing-looking crustacean. In terms of creatures that look like they belong more on Mars than Earth, it's pretty close to to the top of the list. In the crab world, this spiny undersea creature is king. It's the largest known crab on the planet and can live up to more than 100 years... assuming somebody doesn't try to catch it and put it on a plate (via The Tennessee Aquarium).

There's likely not a crustacean alive that somebody hasn't dipped in butter and lemon juice to see if it's edible, and the Japanese spider crab is no different. This crab is indeed edible, but you probably won't find it on the menu of your local Red Lobster anytime soon.  

Preparing a giant Japanese spider crab is no easy task

Much like regular crabs, the Japanese spider crab is harvested with trawling nets, but catching one in the spring mating season is strictly forbidden because the species has suffered population decline in the past, and this is an effort to protect them. 

The crabs can grow to an enormous size with a leg span of 15 feet in length, so naturally, preparing one is a little trickier than a regular old blue crab. As for cooking one of these spiny monsters, a chef steams it over a large boiling pot of water with a heavy metal lid on top (via YouTube). The chef then works on breaking off all those giant legs and extracting meat from the crab's main body and legs. As you can probably imagine, it's quite a workout for the hands. The crabs can range in price from $100 to $500, so it's not exactly a cheap meal (via YouTube).    

As far as the taste, people seem to like it, but whether or not it's that much better than the standard seafood restaurant crab is debatable — in fact, one reviewer only gave it a 6 out of 10. 

For a crab that's so expensive and potentially a threatened species, it's probably best to just leave this sea alien on the ocean floor.