What Is Crab Mustard? (All You Need To Know)

There are so many varieties of mustard that have unique flavor profiles and textures that we have yet to try.

If you’ve ever come across crab mustard, you might be wondering what crab mustard is. Here are the facts you need to know!

What Is Crab Mustard?

Crab mustard is not mustard, per se, but rather the crab’s hepatopancreas. This bright yellow liquid is referred to as “mustard” because of the color that resembles the American yellow mustard. Most crabs that have this yellow-colored liquid are usually Maryland crabs and crabs from the Delmarva Peninsula.

Is crab mustard safe to consume? How do you eat it? Keep reading and learn more below!

Where Can You Find Crab Mustard?

Crab mustard is not mustard, but crab mustard is a crab’s hepatopancreas.

Though all crabs have a hepatopancreas, not all crabs have the famous crab “mustard”. This is because most crab’s mustard will more likely be green, and not yellow.

Crabs from Maryland are the most famous crabs known to carry the crab mustard inside them, as their hepatopancreas will almost always be bright and yellow.

Fall is the best season to get Maryland crabs as the crabs will have just come out of hibernation and will be very fresh for picking.

How Is Crab Mustard Made?

Crab mustard is not made but rather produced inside the crab. This “mustard” is not the crab fat, as most people are convinced it is, but rather the hepatopancreas of the crab.

A crab’s hepatopancreas is what filters the crab’s impurities and creates a crab’s digestive enzymes.

Therefore, the hepatopancreas is the main component of the crab’s digestive system and acts as the crab’s liver and pancreas.

Crab mustard is considered a delicacy and is very tasty to those who love crab mustard, despite its filtering job in a crab.

Maryland crabs are the ones usually known to carry this crab “mustard” since 9 out of 10 Maryland crabs will have a bright yellow hepatopancreas.

Crabs that aren’t found in the Maryland and Delmarva Peninsula will usually have a yellow to light green or dark green tinge to their hepatopancreas.

Therefore, not all crabs are known to have crab mustard, and it is much more common to find crab mustard in Maryland and the Delmarva Peninsula crabs.

Is Crab Mustard Safe To Eat?

Ideally, crab mustard should be consumed in moderation and how safe crab mustard is to consume largely depends on the environment where the crab is from, and the waters the crab was raised in.

If the crab you are about to consume comes from highly polluted and dirty waters, it will be unsafe to eat that crab.

A crab’s hepatopancreas filters the crab’s blood, and the hepatopancreas will contain toxins if the crab comes from dirty waters.

However, if the crab is farm-raised, or from clean, unpolluted waters, then the crab and its crab mustard will be fresh and safe to consume.

Additionally, too much crab mustard can also be harmful to the body, which is why it is best to eat crab mustard in moderation.

Crab mustard may contain toxins that are associated with shellfish poisonings and are not recommended for consumption by young children and pregnant women.

What Is Crab Mustard Used For?

What Is Crab Mustard Used For?

Crab mustard is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, especially in Asia.

In the Philippines, crab mustard is a common dish, usually sauteed in garlic and sold in glass jars. Crab mustard is added to rice, to seafood dishes, and even eaten plain.

Devilled crab and crab cakes are also great when incorporated with crab mustard because crab mustard provides another layer of rich flavor and a creamy texture.

What Is Tomalley?

Tomalley corresponds to the hepatopancreas, or crab mustard, in lobsters and crabs and tomalley comes from the word “tumale”, meaning a sauce of a lobster liver.

Essentially, tomalley comes from lobster and is more used to refer to lobster fat, but tomalley is the same thing as lobster fat because tomalley is still the same as the hepatopancreas.

Tomalley is used often as a thickening agent in sauces, but also may be eaten alone.

Tomalley is also usually incorporated in bisques, and often mixed with crab mustard to produce a richer paste.

Do All Crabs Have Crab Mustard?

Yes, all crabs have crab mustard because the hepatopancreas is an organ that only crabs and lobsters possess.

Although all crabs have crab mustard, not all crabs have clean and fresh crab mustard.

Therefore, it is important to always know where your crab is from and the waters the crab was taken from.

Since the hepatopancreas filters the crab and the crab’s bloodstream, the environment in which the crab is taken from is always a big factor in the crab mustard’s quality.

Take a look at our related articles to learn what German mustard is, what Kasundi mustard is, and if mustard is fermented.


Crab mustard is not actual mustard and is only called crab mustard because of the distinct color crab mustard has that is very similar to the famous yellow mustard.

It is crucial to eat crab mustard only in moderation and ensure that you get crab mustard from reliable sources.

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