Dungeness Crab season is in full swing, and here at Oliver’s Market, we have the West Coast’s favorite crustacean stocked and ready for your enjoyment. Dungeness crabs are prized by restaurant chefs and home cooks for their rich, sweet meat. One of the traditional ways to eat this regional delicacy is plain, right out of the shell (melted butter or a squeeze of lemon optional) with a side of sourdough bread. However, there are a variety of ways in which Dungeness crab can be enjoyed. Here we have some tips on how to clean and crack cooked crabs, as well as how to steam them, boil them, and use them in tasty recipes. The goal is to enjoy these crustaceans as much as possible while they are available.
Cleaning and Cracking Cooked Crab: Our crab at Oliver’s Market is always cooked and cleaned, cracked for an extra $1, but here’s how to do it yourself if you are curious.Twist the legs at the joint that connects them to the body. Pull them off and set aside. Grasp the shell on the sides and pull it off the rest of the body. Pry up the tail flap, pull it back and twist it off. Turn the crab over and clean out the guts, including the gray spongy lungs. Pinch the mouth and mandibles and pull them off. Rinse the body well. To serve, break the body in half and crack each segment of leg and claw at the joint using a mallet, the side of a heavy knife or a nutcracker.
How to Steam Crab: Choose a pan large enough to hold the crabs side by side. Add 1 cup wine, 2 cups water, a bay leaf, black peppercorns and 1 lemon, which has been cut into wedges. Bring to a boil and add the crabs, cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 to 12 minutes.
How to Boil Crab: Drop live crabs into a large pot of boiling water. Boil 15 minutes for a 1½-pound crab, 20 minutes for a 2-pound crab.
Here we have three recipes for enjoying Dungeness crab in the beginning, middle, or end of a meal. Enjoy!
Dungeness Crab and Avocado Crostini
* 1 loaf French baguette
* 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup Olive Oil
* 1 Meyer lemon, juiced
* Salt and fresh ground black pepper
* 1 yellow pepper, seeds removed and diced
* 1 avocado, halved, pitted and flesh diced
* 1 shallot, finely diced
* 8 ounces lump crabmeat
* Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
* Slice the bread into 1/2-inch thick slices. Lightly brush the bread slices with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Arrange the bread on a baking sheet fitted with a rack and bake until lightly toasted, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before topping with the crab mixture.
* In a large bowl whisk together the lemon juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
* Add the yellow pepper, the avocado, shallot and the crab meat to the lemon vinaigrette and toss gently, so as to not break up the crabmeat. Top the bread slices with about a tablespoon of the crab mixture and arrange on a serving platter.
Dungeness Crab Salad in Endive Leaves
* 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
* 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 24 ounces crabmeat
* 6 heads Belgian endive, trimmed, separated into spears
* Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
* Whisk the vinegar, mustard, oregano, salt and pepper in a large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Add the crabmeat and toss gently to coat.
* Arrange the endive spears on a platter. Spoon the crabmeat atop the endive spears. Sprinkle with chives and serve.
Garlic and Chili Roasted Dungeness Crab
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more for cooking the crabs
* 1 lemon, thinly sliced
* 1 head garlic, minced, peels reserved
* 1 onion, minced, peel reserved
* 4 large Dungeness crabs*, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds each
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
* 1 cup olive oil
* 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper, or 6 to 8 fresh red chiles, such as serrano, minced and seeded, or to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro leaves
* Fill a large stockpot two-thirds full of water. Add enough salt so that the water tastes like seawater. Add half of the sliced lemon and the reserved peels from the garlic and onion, and bring to a boil. Plunge the crabs in the water, in batches if necessary, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the crabs from the stockpot and set aside until cool enough to handle.
* Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
*When the crabs are cool enough to handle, remove the top shell and apron and discard. Remove the gills and any transparent cartilage and scrape out any crab fat and rinse crabs under cool running water. Place crabs, bottom side down, on a cutting board and halve lengthwise with a heavy knife.
* Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, the minced garlic, onions, butter, olive oil, crushed red pepper, and black pepper in a large roasting pan. Place the pan in the oven on the lowest rack, and bake, stirring occasionally, until onions and garlic are golden, about 8 minutes. (Do not allow the garlic to burn.) Remove the pan from the oven and add the crab pieces and mix thoroughly so that the crabs are well coated with the garlic and butter mixture. Return the pan to the oven and bake, stirring occasionally, until the crabs are heated through and the garlic mixture is braised onto the shells, 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the chopped parsley or cilantro, and serve hot.