Okay, so it’s Dungeness crab season and with it brings back fond memories of hanging out at Fisherman’s Wharf in the City, tucking into some freshly boiled crab. There really aren’t many dishes that get better than freshly prepared Dungeness crab – no need for drawn butter or any other condiment. Just rip ‘em apart and suck ‘em down. Of course, to do it absolutely perfectly, you’ll need a few bottles of Anchor Steam to wash it all down.
You really can’t mess up this recipe, so don’t be intimidated by cooking with live shellfish.
Go buy some live crab. Make sure they are frisky little fellers when your fishmonger scoops them out of the water tank. A good fishmonger is worth their weight in gold.
Take them home. They can sit in the fridge for a few hours, but you need to cook them as quickly as possible once they’ve been taken out of the water tank.
Fill a large pot(s) with enough water that will easily cover a submerged crab. One crab per pot. Bring it to a rolling boil. Lower in the crab, upside down so the tender meat on its belly doesn’t overcook and get too tough. Your boiling water will cool, but it will come back up to a boil in a few minutes. When it does, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmering boil.
Cooking time – for a 2 lb crab, 15 minutes. For a 3 lb crab – 20 minutes.
Remove the crab from the pot and place it in a colander. Rinse it for just 10 seconds under cool water. When it cools enough for you to handle it, get everyone ready at the table.
Place the crab belly side up on a cutting board with the face closest to you. Using your hands or the tip of a knife, lift the triangular piece of shell at the tail of the crab (the apron), break it off, and discard.
Pick up the crab with your hands, place a thumb in the hole where the apron was, and pull in one motion to remove the top shell (the carapace) from the rest of the body. Discard the carapace.
Place the crab belly side down on the cutting board with the tail closest to you. Remove and discard the soft, pointy gills from the body. The gooey, buttery insides aren’t everyone’s idea of good eats, but have some sourdough bread on hand for those of us who love to dip.
Place the crab on the cutting board back side up and cut in half from face to tail through the middle of the body. You can also cut through the body the individual claws – the very best meat is where the claw meets the body.
To extract the meat, use seafood crackers or small hammers to crack open the claws, legs, and body.
There are certainly other ways to prepare Dungeness crab, from steaming to oven roasting. You can go online and check those options out. For me, I prefer the simple boiling method. It’s quick and produces an amazing finished dish. Fresh and hassle-free. Big yum!