The difference between red and blue king crabs may be subtle to a person who is not familiar with the crabs, but to expert marine biologists (and chefs!) the two are vastly different.
Let’s learn about these two king crabs and their differences both in and out of the kitchen.
In the Wild: Red vs. Blue King Crab
Red king crab and blue king crab have a few big differences when it comes to their natural habitat and bodies.
Red King Crab
The red king crab is the largest crab commercially available, with females often weighing up to 24 pounds and with leg spans of up to five feet. Their color can be brown through a bluish red, but they are much redder than their counterparts the blue king crab.
The red king crab is much easier to locate than the blue king crab as it is higher in numbers and is located in the Bering Sea as well as the North Pacific Ocean.
Blue King Crab
While the red king crab is the largest commercial crab, the blue king crab is the largest king crab overall.
The blue king crab is not exactly blue, but it has a much darker tone than the red king crab and sometimes appears to have a bluish hue.
One fun fact about the blue king crab is that they have an extra set of legs! They are difficult to see as they are tucked up under their shell, but are used to help with fertilization.
These crabs also tend to live deeper in the ocean than their red counterparts and are more difficult to find. They are only known to be located in the Bering Sea.
Differences In the Kitchen
Red and blue king crabs do not just differ in the wild: they are also known for being fairly different in the restaurant industry.
Red King Crab
The red king crab makes up about 75% of the king crab industry.
Red king crabs have thicker legs than their blue partners, which makes them preferable for eating when it comes to the amount of meat.
Most people tend to prefer red king crab when it comes to taste, as it is usually more flavorful.
This crab tends to go for $7.00 per pound, with a leg generally costing between $60 and $70.
Blue King Crab
The blue king crab, being lesser in numbers and more difficult to find, only makes up 15% of the king crab industry.
People generally describe the blue king crab as having a slightly sweeter and more mild taste than other king crabs. Because of this, fewer people tend to prefer the blue king over the red king, especially people who love the taste of crab. Therefore, the blue king crab tends to sell for around $4 per pound.
Aesthetically, however, a lot of people find the blue king crab more enjoyable to present. Their odd color combined with claws that are much larger than the red king crab makes for an excellent presentation!
The red and blue king crab don’t have many differences to the novice crab student, but for experts in both the field and in the kitchen the two crabs are vastly different.