The Việtnamese Spanner Crab (Cua Huỳnh Đế)
The Spanner crab (Ranina ranina) is a red crab that gets its name from the unique shape of its claws. The spanner crab’s carapace is red/orange with several little white spots on top. Their claws are big and pointing inward. Spanner crabs move forwards and backwards, unlike other crabs that move in a sideways motion.
They are a longer-lived species, reaching sexual maturity at 5 and living for up to 15 years. To avoid predators, they spend most of their life buried beneath sandy bottoms.
Commercial quantities of spanner crabs are only found in many countries worldwide, including the Philippines, Japan, Việt Nam and Hawaii. The world’s largest commercial fishery of spanner crab is in Queensland.
The species is known in Việt Nam as “cua Huỳnh Đế”, which literally means “emperor crab.” The names refer to the fact that spanner crab is one of the favourite top-ranking cuisines of historical Vietnamese monarchs. It is the delicacy harvested in the Central Việt Nam’s provinces Bình Thuận, Bình Định and Quảng Ngãi and is hailed “monarch of all the crab”. The Phú Quý island cua Huỳnh Đế is particular well-known in Việt Nam. The cua Huỳnh Đế is only at its peak in the spring, from December to March of the lunar calendar.