What is Troll Crab & What You Need to Know About It

It just turned out wondrous when the big TV show, “Deadliest Catch: The Viking Returns,” introduced the troll crab commercially, and many of you, like me, started scrolling the web pages to get information about it like:

  • Is troll crab just like king crab or more than that?
  • How can I identify a troll crab?
  • Whether troll crab is safe to eat?
  • What does it taste like?

Honestly, my studies got me nothing except superficial information. 

Did I give up?

No way…!

So, What did I do?

I visited Norwegian discussion forums and authentic websites to learn more and more about troll crabs. After all, these are Norwegian seafood items.

So, now, I’ve come up with the most helpful information for you about trollkrabbe, also known as Norwegian stone crab, Atlantic red king crab, or Lithodes maja.

Keep reading to enjoy the most tasty “crabby” bites mindfully next time.

What’s Troll Crab and Why is it Called So?

Troll Crab: Comparison, Identification, Taste, and Cooking Method

Troll crab, also known as the Norwegian stone crab or Atlantic red king crab, is an edible, mild and sweet tasting, large decapod crustacean. The name, “troll crab” comes from its huge size and scary look. It is found in cold, deep waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans along the coasts of Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and southeastern Greenland.

What are the Characteristics of Troll Crab?

Here are some differentiating characteristics of troll crabs.

Appearance

Troll crabs are large, decapod crustaceans with a robust body and broad carapace (shell) that covers the cephalothorax. They have a distinctive reddish-brown or orange color, with a lighter underside. Their carapace can reach up to 200 mm in width and weigh close to 2 kilos. They have a large, sharp spear between their eyes and two powerful claws.

Habitat

Troll crabs are found in cold, deep waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans along the coasts of Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and southeastern Greenland. They typically inhabit depths of 200 to 2,000 meters (656 to 6,562 feet).

Diet

Troll crabs are scavengers, munching on various sea creatures like fish, shellfish, and seaweed. They use their strong claws to sift through the sand and mud on the ocean floor and extract food particles.

Uniqueness

Troll crabs differ from other king crab species in several ways. They have a unique reddish-brown color and strong claws for protection and catching prey. They also have a y-shaped spear between their eyes, unlike the snow crab which has a powerful spike. Additionally, their meat is leaner and drier than that of other king crabs.

How Can You Identify a Real Troll Crab?

To identify a real Lithodes maja crab or Atlantic red king crab, you can look for the following distinguishing characteristics:

Size

Body PartAverage Size
Carapace width13–14 cm (5.1–5.5 in)
Carapace length10–12 cm (3.9–4.7 in)
Claw length7–8 cm (2.8–3.1 in)
Weight1–2 kg (2.2–4.4 lb), yet can grow up to 10 pounds
The table describes the physical measurements of an adult troll crab.

It is important to note that these are just average sizes, and individual Lithodes maja may vary in size. Overall a troll crab is about 4 times smaller than a king crab. 2 average size king crabs may fit in a bowl.

The largest recorded Lithodes maja (troll crab) was caught in Norway in 2009. It had a carapace width of 16.2 centimeters (6.4 inches) and a weight of 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds).

Color

As the name suggests, troll crabs have a distinctive reddish-brown or orange color, which has a lighter underside. However, their color can vary, ranging from dark red to brownish-red, depending on factors like age and habitat.

Carapace

Troll crabs have a large, robust body with a broad carapace (shell) that covers the cephalothorax.

The males can have a carapace width of up to 200 mm and a weight close to 2 kilos. 

The troll crabs have a big and a small claw, a bit like the lobster. Female troll crab has a fairly asymmetrical abdomen.

The crab’s “saddle,” a hump on the back of the carapace, is fairly visible with a heart-like shape. 

The troll crab differs from king crabs in that the “spear” between the eyes is usually split in a y. It’s almost like a snow crab without the powerful spikes. 

Claws

The front pair of claws, known as chelipeds, are the most striking feature of the troll crabs. They’re robust and powerful, with a reddish hue similar to the rest of the crab’s body. 

Spines 

Both carapace and claws have long, pointed spines. The spikes on the claws are usually slightly bent. 

If you go a little closer to the troll crab, you will see both the spikes and the split spear near the eyes, in front of the large crushing claw and the smaller, slightly more useless one.

How Was Troll Crab Introduced to Norwegian Waters?

Originally from the Bering Sea of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, the king crabs were introduced to the Barents Sea by Russian scientists in the 1960s. They were intended as a protein-rich food source and had no natural predators, leading to their spread to Norway. As a result of this shift, the troll crabs were first sighted in Norwegian waters in 1977.

How Does Troll Crab Differ From Other King Crabs?

A king crab is a large edible crab that lives in cold waters of the North Pacific and North Atlantic oceans. It’s named “king” for its large size and the distinctive taste of its meat.

Several king crab species are safe to eat, though discarding some parts is recommended. Some of these are:

  • Red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus)  
  • Blue king crab (Paralithodes platypus
  • Golden king crab (Lithodes aequispinus
  • Snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio
  • Norwegian stone or red king crab (Lithodes maja), also known as troll crab, is native to Atlantic waters in Norway.

Hence, the troll crab, also called the Norwegian stone crab, is a specific kind of king crab found in Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland. Its name comes from its large size and scary look.

Troll crabs have a unique reddish-brown color and scavenger habits. They eat fish, shellfish, and seaweed. Unlike other king crabs, they have distinctive features like their color and spines on the body, contributing to their horrifying looks and habitat in Norwegian waters.

Is Entire Troll Crab Safe to Eat? 

Lithodes Maja, or troll crab, is safe to eat, as some Norwegians say,

You won’t die by eating them…! 

Even most Norwegian crabs are considered to be free from metal and toxic, according to a study report referred by thefishsite.com. It’s a popular food item among seafood enthusiasts and is enjoyed in many restaurants and seafood markets.

There are no known health risks associated with eating troll crab. However, cooking the crab thoroughly is essential to kill any harmful bacteria.

If you’re pregnant or have a shellfish allergy, it is best to avoid eating troll crab.

How Nutritious and Healthy is Troll Crab?

Troll crab, also known as Lithodes maja, is a nutritious food source. It is a good source of protein, low in fat, and contains a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Here is a table of the nutritional value of 100 grams of cooked troll crab meat:

NutrientAmount
Calories98
Protein21 grams
Fat2 grams
Carbohydrates1 gram
Cholesterol82 mg
Sodium93 mg
Vitamin A2% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin C11% of the DV
Calcium10% of the DV
Iron2% of the DV

As you can see, troll crab is a good source of protein and low in fat. It’s also a good source of vitamin C and calcium.

In addition to the nutrients listed above, troll crab is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for heart health and may help to reduce the risk of inflammation and cancer.

In short, troll crab is a nutritious food source that can be a part of a healthy diet. It’s a good source of protein, low in fat, and contains a variety of vitamins and minerals.

What Does Troll Crab Taste Like?

The meat of troll crabs is considered a delicacy and is often described while comparing it with that of other king crabs.

The huge injustice…!

Yes, I think you can only describe the taste of troll crab after eating it. Many Norwegian eaters have compared the troll crab’s mild and sweet taste with lobster and redfish or even crab sticks, not other king crab species.

On the other hand, usually, Alaskan king crabs and Golden king crabs taste sweet and slightly briny or mild and sweet, respectively.

The effort to pull the meat out of troll crab legs adds more to the taste–it’s hard-earned.

Yet, it tastes insanely delicious…!

In short, despite being a king crab species, the troll crab retains its appearance and taste uniqueness.

What’s the Texture of Troll Crab Meat?

The troll crabs have tasty white, little meat with a firm texture. This meat offers you a simple slice of crab as life’s greatest joy. 

The meat is somewhat drier than that of the pocket crab. The reason is that it has lean, dry meat, unlike other popular king crab species’ fatty meat. 

It’s easy to get the meat out of the bones if you break the joints gently instead of breaking them off with brute force. 

Part of the trick is to get rid of the constrictions in the joint. So that the meat can be pulled out from claws in one nice, whole piece–there isn’t much meat.

What’s the Difference Between Troll Crab and King Crab Taste and Texture?

King crab features a rich and robust flavor. It tastes sweet and briny, with a more pronounced seafood essence. Troll crab, comparatively, has a slightly more assertive flavor than king crab meat. It’s still sweet and delicate, but it also has a bit of a tangy, earthy flavor.

The texture of king crab is luxurious and indulgent. The meat is incredibly tender, with large, succulent chunks that practically melt in your mouth. In contrast, troll crab’s meat flakes maintain their texture with more consistent and less stringy flakes, offering a smooth eating experience.

In short, if you prefer a milder, sweeter flavor with a slightly firmer texture, troll crab is an excellent choice. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more intense, rich crab flavor with a luxurious, melt-in-your-mouth texture, king crab is likely to be your top pick.

How Much Meat Can You Get From a Troll Crab?

You can get about up to 1 pound of meat from a troll crab. And, from the legs, it can be anywhere between 80-100 grams. Meat from 10 troll crab claws is equal to 10 large prawns.

How Many Troll Crabs Per Person?

The “trollkrabbe” has got little meat to offer to you. That’s why it can only be served as a side course delicacy. You can get the meat from each of its legs, not more than that from a prawn. 

Overall, a whole troll crab legs get you meat equal to 10 shellfish.

As a rule of thumb, 80-100 grams of troll crab meat is enough per person. So, 1 whole troll crab can serve 1-2 persons.

How Can You Cook Troll Crabs?

If you can get canned troll crab meat, well and good. Yet, for freshly caught troll crabs, you can follow the method given below:

Cooking

  • Boil enough water for the whole troll crab by adding 2 tablespoons of salt per liter. 
  • Once boiling, place the troll crab into the water and ensure it is completely submerged by covering it with a heavy lid. 
  • Let it simmer for 12-13 minutes, but be careful not to exceed this time.

Cutting

The two claws and four legs of the crab are joined together, and all parts contain edible meat.

Each pair of legs and claws can be separated easily with scissors.

Cut the shell of the troll crab using a fish scissor. Online sources claim that the shell of the troll crab requires crushing, while the king crab’s shell is soft and can be cut with scissors.

Using fish scissors, it’ll be relatively simple to cut open the legs and claws. The meat from multiple claws can be found on the lower left side. You’ll discover that cutting across the legs just inside the attachments allows the meat to be easily extracted.

Serving

Enjoy the meat with fresh loin and melted butter; the dish could benefit from a slightly more browned appearance. 

Mayonnaise also pairs well with it.

Can you Get Troll Crabs in the USA?

No, troll crabs aren’t commercially available in the USA. Even if you succeed in getting them, they might be extremely pricey. If you want to enjoy them, it’s best to visit Norway.

What Recipes Can You Make with Troll Crab?

You can use troll crab in any recipe calling for king crab meat. It’ll be great if the recipe allows you to enjoy the troll crab taste without overpowering it with other ingredients. Some of the best recipes can be as follows:

1. Grilled Troll Crab with Lemon Butter Sauce

This simple yet flavorful dish allows the natural sweetness of the crab meat to shine through. Grill the crab legs or claws until slightly charred, then baste with a garlicky lemon butter sauce for a burst of flavor.

2. Troll Crab Salad with Avocado and Mango

This refreshing salad is perfect for a light lunch or appetizer. Combine cooked troll crab meat with chopped avocado, mango, red onion, and cilantro, and dress with a citrusy vinaigrette for a delightful contrast of textures and flavors.

3. Grilled Troll Crab Skewers

Thread troll crab chunks onto skewers, grilling to enhance the natural sweetness of the crab. A light olive oil brush adds a hint of richness.

4. Troll Crab Ceviche with Citrus and Avocado

This refreshing ceviche is a light and flavorful dish that’s perfect for a warm summer day. Fresh troll crab meat is marinated in a citrusy mixture of onions, cilantro, and avocado for a vibrant and tangy appetizer or main course.

5. Troll Crab Crabcakes with Remoulade Sauce

These crispy crabcakes are a classic seafood dish that’s always a crowd-pleaser. Cooked troll crab meat is combined with breadcrumbs, eggs, and herbs, then formed into patties and pan-fried until golden brown. Serve with a creamy remoulade sauce for a delightful accompaniment.

How Can You Grill Troll Crabs?

You can grill troll crabs, yet you might get a little meat. In fact, grilling is a great way to bring out the sweetness and delicate flavor of crab meat. 

To grill troll crabs:

  • Preheat your grill to medium heat. You would never like the high heat to turn the crab meat to cook too quickly and become tough.
  • Brush the crab with olive oil; it’ll help prevent the crab from sticking to the grill and add some flavor.
  • Grill the crab for 5-7 minutes per side or until the meat is cooked through. The crab will be cooked through when the shells are bright red, and the meat is opaque.

Serve the crab immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.

What Parts of a Troll Crab Shouldn’t You Eat?

You should not eat the following parts of a Lithodes maja crab:

  • The viscera, which are the internal organs of the crab, include the stomach, intestines, and liver. The viscera are not edible and can be harmful if ingested.
  • The gills, which are the crab’s respiratory organs, are not edible. They can also be harmful if ingested.
  • The apron, the flap of skin on the underside of the crab. It is not edible and can be harmful if ingested.
  • The feces, which are the waste products of the crab, are not edible. They can also be harmful if ingested.

Bottom Line

Troll crab is a Norwegian species of king crab, which has not been commercialized, yet. The crab offers a unique lobster and shellfish-like taste, which is completely safe to eat. You can enjoy it in many ways as you do the other king crabs.

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Saba Akbar
Saba Akbar

Hello, I'm a culinary explorer and food writer with 25 years of home kitchen expertise. This blog is a treasure trove of my insights on global cuisine, cooking tips, and expert knowledge of kitchen tools.
Besides this, as a GERD survivor, I've transformed my passion for food into a quest for food's GERD-friendliness and healthiness. I believe what you eat shapes your internal environment—join me on this lifelong journey of taste and healthiness!

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