Food, Travel and Tech

This $46,000 snow crab is the most expensive in the world

A snow crab sold for a record of $46,000 at an auction, in Tottori city on November 7, 2019.
STR | AFP | Getty Images

A single snow crab sold for $46,000 (or 5 million yen) at an auction in Tottori, Japan, CNN reports. Nicknamed "five shining star" for its impressive shape and thick legs, the 2.7-pound crab was purchased by Tetsuji Hamashita, president of a Japanese fishery wholesaler.

"I know it's extreme. But it's the custom," Hamashita told CNN about his purchase. Last year, a snow crab sold for $18,000, which set the world record. Hamashita said he expected the price would be around 3 million yen or $27,000.

The reason why the crab was so expensive has to do with the timing of the sale. In Japan, it's considered a status symbol to buy the first and best crab caught on the first day of crab fishing season, which was Nov. 6, CNN reports. Snow crab season only runs for four months in Japan, from November to early March, which makes it even more of a seasonal delicacy.

The water in Tottori is considered ideal for crab fishing, because it's deep and clean, according to the Michelin Guide. Interestingly, in recent years, climate change has made it easier to fish for snow crabs in other parts of the world, such as the Barents Sea, because the icy seasons are less severe.

But that doesn't mean that prices for snow crabs are going down. Snow crab prices reached record levels in 2017, due to short supply and global demand, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Hamashita told CNN that he's "sure the taste of the crab matches the price." This prized crab will go to a restaurant in Tokyo's Ginza neighborhood, where diners can taste for themselves.

"I believe it is a good crab filled with meat," Hamashita told the Japan Times.

Curious how this crustacean stacks up to other rare or specialty foods? Here are four surprisingly expensive foods that sold at recent auctions:

Tuna

After Kiyoshi Kimura, the owner of a sushi restaurant chain, paid $3.1 million for a bluefin tuna in January, he told reporters that "I think I did too much." The fish weighed 613 pounds, and sold for five times the expected price.

French Burgundy wine

The most expensive bottle of wine ever sold at auction is a 73-year-old bottle of French Burgundy, which went for a whopping $558,000, CNBC reported in October 2018. Only 600 bottles of this type of wine were produced in 1945, which is why it's so coveted.

Scotch whisky

Considered the "holy grail" of Scotch whisky by Sotheby's, a 60-year-old bottle of Macallan whisky sold for almost $1.9 million in October. The whisky was distilled in 1926, but bottled in 1986, according to USA Today.

Blue cheese

A two-hour bidding war for a wheel of Cabrales blue cheese ended with a restaurateur paying $16,000 in August 2018, according to Guinness World Records. Cabrales cheese matures inside of caves found in northern Spain's limestone mountains, which typically aren't accessible by car. The wheels must be hand-turned and rubbed for up to six months to develop the cheese's spicy, salty flavor.

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