Maori Name: Pāpaka
Latin Name: Ovalipes catharus
Length: 10–13cm carapaceFamily:
Paddle crabs belong to the Portunidae family (swimming crabs).
Red crab (Chaceon bicolor) is another species of crab found in New Zealand. Red crabs are also known as Red rock crabs, or Crystal crabs (Australia).
They are found around New Zealand and southern Australia where the species is widely distributed on sandy beaches in shallow water.
The paddle crab is found off sandy beaches, and in harbours and estuaries throughout mainland New Zealand, the Chatham Islands and east and south Australia. Paddle crabs were introduced into the Quota Management System in 2002. Commercial interest was first realised in 1977-78, when good numbers of large crabs were caught off Westshore Beach, Napier. Landings increased in the early fishery from 775kg in 1977 to 306 tonnes in 1985 and 403 tonnes in 1995-96, however, they have since decreased significantly in response to market conditions.
Paddle crabs are caught with baited traps or pots.
The flesh of the paddle crab is white, crisp, moist and delicious. To dispatch your paddle crab,force a sharp knife through the indented spot just above the tail flap on its underside - this kills the crab instantly - or put it in boiling water. Cook by boiling for 10 minutes in a small amount of water, then rinse in cold water. Hold the back legs and with the crab facing you, lift the shell off. Remove the gills and extract the flesh, cutting the crab in half with a sharp knife. Separate out the legs, claws and body and carefully extract the meat from each part of the body. Bake; bbq; steam; or fry. Particularly delicious with chilli.
Male Paddle crabs share a courting technique with cicadas. The crab rubs its leg against a rasp under its claw, 'stridulating' to attract a mate.
Paddle crab is a good source of Selenium and Zinc; and a source of Copper, Iodine, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Niacin (vitamin B3) and Vitamin B6.
Seafood is a highly nutritious food and is a great source of protein. Many species are low in saturated fat and a number of them are a good source of Omega 3.