Health Benefits of eating Crabs

Written by Dr harold Gunatillake-Health writer

When you say, “Let’s go for a crab feed”, no one refuses, kids will jump up in unison would say,”Yes, let’s go”. You do not get that same enthusiasm, for a prawn feed. I suppose other sea-foods you eat more often than eating crabs, a delicacy you enjoy eating. Invariably you use both hands forgetting table etiquette to crack the shells of the limbs and body, with juice spread all over you, and even on your clothes, and a most satisfying moment, being busy right through the process.

Crab seems to be an option, included with rice and curry in your eating plan. It is low calorie, so tend to eat with no restriction: each only around 85-90 per 100 g (depending on the crab type). It contains little fat, mainly unsaturated with omega 3 fatty acids, quite heart-healthy and good for memory. It also seems to decrease the risk of cancer, and possibly help improve depression and anxiety.
Most seafood is high in mercury levels, but crabs don’t seem to contain mercury. Crabs on the other hand have more benefits than other sea-foods: a good source of vitamin A, C and the B vitamins, including B12. Crabs are high in minerals like zinc, copper selenium and chromium. Chromium is a useful mineral if you have insulin resistance as in diabetes, and improves blood sugar control.

Some people are allergic to seafood. They should not eat crabs, or dishes containing crabs. Crabs have purines and those having gout should restrict eating crabs.

Sachin Tendulkar seems to eat lot of crabs-so he said when interviewed in Marathi newspaper

Crabs are perishable, and should be eaten after purchasing the live crabs. You could store in ice and eat within 24 hours.

If you are cooking with crab you must always use an uncooked crab. (Crab meat can never be cooked twice.) The new RSPCA guidelines on how to kill live crabs state that they should be chilled in a refrigerator or freezer for a couple of hours and then killed by splitting or spiking to destroy the nerve centres. At least at your hand, you know it died painlessly. From a culinary point of view it will taste better too.

In Colombo, if you like chillie crabs the place to visit is Yarl hotel, on station Rd, Wellawatte. It is not visible as you turn onto Station Road from Galle Road, as it is in a niche within 50 yards on the left hand side. The crabs here are small compared to the Ministry crabs in Hospital Street. If you like red hot chillie, this is the place to go.

On his BBC Far Eastern Odyssey series, Rick Stein famously claimed it was the best crab he’d ever eaten. If you dare, sit down for a Jaffna meal at Yarl with 3 vegetables, a dhal, and coarse red kekulu rice. You can add on a portion of crab for approximately Rs.300/-

It is not a place for ladies to patronise, but takeaway food would be the solution for them. Parking your car on Station Road may be a problem till about 7pm.

Yaal Restaurant on Marine Drive is a bit cleaner and ladies will feel more comfortable. There are three sizes of crabs, the cheapest Rs 300 and the biggest Rs 700. Most times the bigger once disappear in no time. Crabs curry is served with string-hoppers, pittus or rice.

The Crab Company also serves export quality lagoon crabs. You need to order at least 3 kgs as a starter. You need to order the day before and deliver free within Colombo city. On their menu is a Sri Lanka crab curry with murunga leaves, Singapore-style chili crab, Thai pepper crab and if you’d like to savour the meat alone, a steamed crab with dip. Prices vary from Rs.1500/- to Rs.2200/ per kilogram depending on the size of your crab. Find out more at

They give you a mixture of South Indian and North Indian cuisine with Sri Lankan dishes. At Amaravathi, the crab comes served in a spicy curry and makes for a lovely meal with a side of creamy curd rice. Slip some pickle and a piece of crunchy papadam in there and you have a mouthful to salivate over. It’s located down Mile Post Avenue in Colombo 3 – call in advance on 011 257 7418 to check if crab is on the menu that day.

Seafish Restaurant
This restaurant is located behind Regal Theatre down Sir Chittambalam Gardiner Mawatha. They serve chillie carb for Rs 690/-
For more information check out their blog-

Ministry of Crab
Now we come to the up-market Ministry of Crabs located in the Old Dutch Hospital, Colombo, Fort.
They serve classic dishes such as Chilli Crab and Baked Crab on the menu, as well as a host of other dishes to please all palates (including non-seafood and vegetarian options) – Ministry of Crab is a culinary experience that will keep you coming back for more, if you can afford it. The price of a large crab, three people can share is about Rs 10,000 (Aus $ 90). Both food and drinks are highly priced, and the service is average at best. The quality of the food seems to be excellent. You need to book a table as reservations are heavy here. Most people enjoy the black pepper crab and curry crab. You could get chicken curry, too. Some complain that they do not serve crushes and a bit hard and messy without.

You could also buy live crabs from the fish markets and cook at home. That would be the tastiest and cheapest. Remember to cook with murunga leaves.

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