Plucked from a crab pot, plunked in a cooking pot then dipped in clarified butter and garlic, “Best Foods™” Mayonnaise or just kissed with lemon juice.
Here’s my favorite way to do your crab cooking.
First, figure on 1 to 2 Dungeness crabs per person (1-1/2 pounds of crab per person. A 2-pound crab yields 8 ounces of crabmeat). While the sweetness of the crab will flavor your meal, you can add a little spice such as Old Bay Seasoning™, bay leaves, peppercorns and a few tablespoons of sea salt per gallon of boiling water. Ocean water is great, as long as it is clean and pure. Bring a large pot of water to a hard boil and gently drop in one crab at a time, shell-side down. Do not overcrowd the pot – there should be about 3 inches of water
over the crabs. You need room for the boiling water to swirl. Put the pot lid back on. When the water comes to a second hard boil, cook for 15 minutes at a gentle high boil.
If you wish to be humane, you’ll probably want to ‘hypnotize’ the crab. This is similar to what you do to a lobster. Hold the crab by its legs, then stroke the top of its head. It will soon fall asleep. No need for lullabies. Then slowly slip it into the boiling water head-first.
After cooking the crab, take them out of the pot and put them into a stream of cold water for a minute to quickly stop the cooking process.
Another way to cook the crab is by steaming. You may steam the crab for 20 minutes – again, with the shell-side down.
Note. Take advantage of their cold-blooded nature. Chill the crabs in the fridge or freezer just before use to slow their metabolism down so you can handle them easily. This is the same trick crab fisherman use when icing them down.
Cracking Dungeness Crab
After cooking Dungeness crab, eating straight from the shell is fun and oh-so yummy.
- Twist off each leg (including the two large legs with claws) where they join the body. Break off the small pincer and discard.
- Break the large claws in two at the dotted line, and crack with a nutcracker. Or, you can place the crab on a cutting board and give it a light whack with a mallet or small hammer. Most Dungeness Crab connoisseurs consider the claws the best meat. You may wish to nibble as you go, dipping your crabmeat in drawn butter or cocktail sauce, or you might squeeze a spritz of fresh lemon juice.
- Crack the next two joints of the largest legs with a nutcracker or mallet and remove it’s juicy, succulent meat. It’s perfectly acceptable – if you’re carried away with the proper amount of adventure – to suck meat out of the shell, as if using a straw. Or, if you feel timid, use a nut pick or a cocktail fork.
- Repeat the cracking procedure on the top two joints of rest of the legs. Get it all; don’t miss a single piece of that flavorful meat!
- Smaller joints of legs can be snapped with your fingers; the meat can be either sucked out or removed with a nut pick or a cocktail fork.
- Grasp the main body of crab with two hands and firmly snap it in two. Place each section on a cutting board and strike with a mallet to break the small “bones” and loosen the meat. More flamboyant and independent crackers may simply choose to use their fingers to separate and remove meat. A nut pick or cocktail fork can come in handy.
If you plan to save the now-ready crab for later, be sure to cover it and keep it refrigerated until you’re ready. If you are going to keep it longer than 2 or 3 days, pack it in a moisture- and vapor-proof container (a glass jar is perfect). Top the meat with plastic wrap or lightweight foil to exclude as much air as possible. Cap the container tightly and freeze.
Other great recipes:
ANDREW’S GARLIC-BUTTER DIP
- 1 clarified butter stick
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped garlic
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 Tablespoon paprika
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
Put all ingredients except the parsley in a saucepan. Bring to a low-medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Take off heat; add parsley and serve hot. Enjoy!
WORLD’S BEST CRAB CAKES
- 1 pound of lump crabmeat
- 2 egg yolks (lightly beaten)
- 2 heaping Tbsp. Mayonnaise
- 2-4 Tbsp. butter
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire
- 1/2 small onion (grated)
- 1-1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder
- 1 small jalapeno (seeds removed, sliced thin)
- 12 Ritz crackers (crumbled)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Panko breadcrumbs
Combine all ingredients except crackers, and mix gently. Try to leave the crabmeat in lumps. Cover and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. Just before cooking, heat 2 Tbsp. butter in each of 2 large ovenproof skillets on medium high. Remove crab mixture from refrigerator, add crumbled crackers and shape into 8 patties approximately 2 1/2″ in diameter, Lightly coat with breadcrumbs. Sauté 4 cakes each in the skillets until brown on bottom side – about 4 minutes. Turn cakes & place skillets in hot oven at 450° for about 5 minutes. Cakes should be crisp on the outside, yet moist on the inside. Serve with Lemon Sauce (below).
LEMON SAUCE FOR CRAB CAKES
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 3/4 c. chicken broth
- 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. butter
In a 2-3 qt. saucepan, bring wine & broth to a boil over high heat. Reduce mixture to 3/4 cup (about 6 minutes). Mix together lemon juice, corn starch and sugar. Stir slowly into broth mixture. Continue to stir until sauce boils. Stir in butter; keep warm until served.