Passing on Resources
Only male horsehair crabs larger than eight centimeters are harvested. At the end of each harvest season, resources are inspected, and fishing is conducted accordingly the following year.
High Commercial Value
Esashi horsehair crabs that utilize the bountiful nutrients carried by the drift ice are highly nutritious and plump. Only crabs that have the highest commercial value, in short ones that are full of meat and crab butter, are harvested.
Esashi Horsehair Crab Pots
Crab pots are dropped off shore in waters between 50 and 120 meters deep. After one day the pots are pulled out of the water. Bait is placed inside of the pots, and once the crabs get into the pot they are unable to get out.
Making the Pots
Using only netting, thread, and other materials that meet permit conditions, much care, and thought goes into the height and angle of the net that the crabs can climb, as well as the mouth of the pot. All of this depends heavily on the experience fishermen have gained over the years.
Quality and Resource Management
In Esashi, only "hard crabs," crabs that have hard shells, are harvested. The fishermen harvest only male crabs, each exceeding 8cm for the crab to be eligible for harvest. The color and hardness of the shell are also quickly examined to determine whether or not the crab is harvestable.
Processing that Maintains Freshness
After the crabs are boiled with just the right amount of salt, they are flash-frozen, coating the surface of the crabs with a layer of ice to prevent drying. This ensures the quality of fresh-boiled crab.
The Freezing Technology
Esashi Horsehair Crabs
In order to preserve taste, each crab is flash-frozen. Coating the crabs with a "glaze" of thin ice, prevents drying and oxidation, which can alter the taste.
Thawing While Preserving Taste
The best way to thaw the crab is to let it slowly thaw in the refrigerator. If you steam the frozen crab in a pot, it will taste just like crabs boiled right out of the ocean.
Between mid March and early May
Strong flavor and taste
Crab Pot Fishing
Two-hundred and fifty crab pots are attached to a rope 5km long and dropped at 6 locations in the ocean. According to Hokkaido law, female crabs and those that have shells less than 8 cm long are tossed back into the sea to preserve resources, as are young crabs that have just shed and have low commercial value. They will become more valuable the following year. Only male crabs with a shell length of over 8 cm find their way to the market.