From Off My List: Favorite Foods- Dungeness Crab

Crab Louie, Crab Pesto, Deviled Crab- you name it, I crave it.  Every November I live for the start of crab season and eat it as often as possible before February is over. This year the wait for crab season to open seemed especially long due to the extremely delayed and disappointing 2015 season (due to high domoic acid levels found in the crabs).  Unfortunately, the 2016 Northern California season continues on with the same struggle.  While last year’s delay spanned almost the entire season, this year’s season opened in locations south of Point Reyes only in mid-November.

Tonight however, we will enjoy a long awaited fresh boiled cracked crab dinner (my favorite over all) with caesar salad and sourdough bread.  I cannot overstate the difference in taste between fresh home cooked cracked crab, and store bought cooked cracked crab.  The meat is sweeter, fluffier and without odor.  And the retail price is lower too.  Once we tried boiling it ourselves at home, despite the extra work we never bought pre-cooked again.

The Recipe:   (serves 6)

  • 4 live Dungeness crabs
  • 3 tbs salt

Add 3 tbs salt to 12 quarts of water in a 15 qt pot and boil on stove on high heat.  Once water  temperature reaches a rolling boil, drop one live crab head first into the water and replace pot lid. Wait until the water is once again at a rolling boil, push first crab down with tongs and then drop in a second crab, placing it the same way into the pot and then cover pot once again.  Once water boils again, drop temperature to medium heat, cooking the crabs for about 20 minutes.  Remove crabs from water and let cool.

Once the crabs have cooled down, place crab on a work surface, belly side up. Pull off triangular-shaped belly flap (aka apron) and drain, if needed. Turn crab over and remove shell by prying off using your thumb or fingers. Remove spongy gills and small paddle at front of crab.  Rinse cavity under running water to remove any dark interior or debris, and be careful not to remove meat.  With the crab belly side down, grasp either side of crab and crack in half, using a knife for extra force if needed.  Inserting your thumb at the joint for leverage, twist off claws and legs, pulling off a piece of body with each.  Once legs have all been removed, use a kitchen hammer or meat tenderizer to crack the shells of the legs for easier meat removal once served.

Pour yourself a glass of prosecco or sparkling wine, toss crab pieces on a platter for the table, melt some butter for dipping if you like and enjoy this deliciously fresh seafood feast!

©2016 Lisa Ihnken All Rights Reserved

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