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Mitten Crab Fishing and Mitten Crab Kakemeshi!

The video(岡山・和気町に伝わるモクズガニ漁に密着「ズガニのかけ飯」の味は) closely covers Keiji Mandai from the Yoshiikawa Southern Fishery Cooperative, who runs a mitten crab fishing business in Wake, Okayama in Japan's Chugoku.
The title of the video roughly translates to “Japanese mitten crab fishing In Wake, Okayama. Mitten crab fisheries and a taste of Kakemeshi." Kenji Mandai is a veteran fisherman with 70 years of experience.

Mitten crab is called "Zugani" by the local people and it is used in the local special dish “Zugani Kakemeshi.” Please watch the video to see some of the characteristics of mitten crab fishing, or to check the recipe for Zugani Kakemeshi.

Mitten Crab Fishing

Image of Mitten crab
Photo:Mitten crab

Mitten crabs are found in the river and the local people call it “Zugani.”
The mitten crab is part of the crustacean species. Its carapace is 7-8 cm, and it weighs around 180g.
The fishing process is actually quite easy as well. Being nocturnal, mitten crabs usually stand still in between rocks.
Knowing this, fisherman put net traps into the river and the mitten crabs have a tendency to just walk inside them. That's it!
If you want to see this in action, take a look at the video starting from 0:16.

Mitten crab fishing peaks in the fall since the crabs travel down the river to breed. They're packed with meat during this time of the year so it's definitely the best season to try them. If the crabs legs crabs are yellow, that means it's a lunker!

Unfortunately, because their size is relatively small and it takes time and effort to cook, there are fewer and fewer people eating mitten crabs nowadays . As a result, not many fishermen are involved in mitten crab fishing, and the tradition has been on a steady decline.

What Is Mitten Crab Kakemeshi? Recipes and Popular Ways to Cook Mitten Crab

Mitten crab kakemeshi is loved by the local people in Wake, Okayama and a feast is held during the rice harvesting season in the fall.
After cooking vegetables in a pot, chop up the mitten crabs (including the shells), and strain the crabs using a strainer.

In order to get the best tasting crab, it is best to spend time chopping up the crab as finely as possible. The shell of the crabs used to be the main source of protein for the people of Wake. After seasoning the soup with soy sauce, the standard way to enjoy this meal is to put it over rice. Mitten crab kakemeshi has a very rich taste, and you can taste every ingredient.

For a more in-depth explanation on how to prepare mitten crab, take a look at 3:16 for the recipe on how to make mitten crab kakemeshi.
There are several other recipes using mitten crabs, such as Takikomi gohan (this involves cooking the crab with other ingredients inside of a rice cooker with rice), Tsugani soup, steamed crabs, miso soup, and crab pasta. Mitten crab is a perfect ingredient for both Japanese and western dishes. Also shown in the video at 5:58, the local people cut a steamed crab in half and eat it straight.

A Summary of the Mitten Crab Fishing and Mitten Crab Kakemeshi Introduction

Image of mitten crab
Photo:Mitten crab

Mitten crabs taste the best, and are beefiest in Autumn, and although it has a strong smell, if cooked properly it can become a delicious meal.

If you are planning to visit Japan, we recommend trying different kinds of Japanese food to feel the culture of Japan. If this article has got you interested in trying some crab dishes after watching the mitten crab fishing video, there's no better place to get your fill than Wake, Okayama. Although mitten crab fishing has been on the decline, mitten crab is a taste that deserves to be passed down for generations.

Written By
Sep. 15, 2020
Japan
坂崎 なお(Nao Sakazaki)
Interested in Japanese culture and traditions! I'll be introducing lovely scenery to you!
Wake, Okayama’s Local Seasonal Feast. Introducing Traditional Mitten Crab Fishing, Mitten Crab Recipes, and the Mitten Crab Dish “Kakemeshi”!
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