Flower Crab (Charybdis feriatus)
The flower crab is easily identifiable with its splendid orange outfit and the cross-like color marks on its shell.
With that luxurious color tone and the largest body-build among all 3 kinds of Wanli Crab, the meaty Flower Crab is extremely popular amongst gourmet consumers. Therefore its selling price is twice more expensive than the other two.
The Flower Crab's delicate and tender crab meat and its salty, creamy crab roe are very tasty even when it is simply steamed or water-boiled.
However, it is also a perfect match with eggs. For example, dishes such as the “Osmanthus Flower Crab” (stir-fried onions, beaten egg, and Flower Crab ) and the “Steamed Egg with Flower Crab Meat” are both visual and taste buds enjoyable.
The Flower Crab is available all-year-round in the seafood restaurants at the coastal New Taipei City areas. They are at their best during the Dragon Boat Festival weeks and the Fall to Winter months (September ~ December).
3-Spot Crab (Portunus sanguinolentus、red-spotted swimming crab)
The 3-Spot Crab gets its name for the 3 obvious dark purple-red spots on its olive-green shell when alive. It is Wanli fishermen's most favorite crab due to its salty and extremely tender and juicy crab meat.
One can taste sea-flavors all condensed in just one bite of the 3-Spot Crab meat. No dipping sauce is needed to enjoy the 3-Spot Crab.
The 3-Spot Crab in the autumn is at its peak with lots of salty meat and golden crab roe. Since it is less expensive than the Flower Crab therefore it offers the best value for the money.
The shell of the 3-Spot Crab is soft and thin so it is easy to break with no hassle using crackers or other tools to get to the meat. This thin shell feature makes it perfect for stir-fried or deep-fried dishes.
Either way it is easy to be seasoned and become crispy. For example the very famous Yeliu specialty ~ “Stir-fired Sha-Cha Crab,” or the “Fried Crab with Chili” are both perfect 3-Spot Crab dishes. The 3-Spot Crab is at its best from the end of August to December.
Stone Crab (Charybdis natator)
The Stone Crab has granular thrusts all over its dark brown back shell that makes it looked like a rough stone, hence the name. It is the smallest in size of all three.
But under the ugly hardshell there hides delicious crab meat so full of characters that once eaten, it is hard to forget. One might fall in love with it and becomes a fan.
The Stone Crab is most famous for its two meaty clams. Some restaurants bake the clam meat together with butter and sautéed onion. This “Buttery Crab Clam” dish can even be found at some night markets.
Due to its rich flavor, the Stone Crab is ideal for fishermen's cooking of hot pot, miso-siru (Japanese miso soup), and noodle soup where the soup gets the sweetness from the crab meat.
The Stone Crab season ranges from the second-half of October to January. It is the least expensive Wanli Crab comparing with Flower Crab and 3-Spot Crab.