Getting the Best Out of a Dungeness Crab

Within the US, the dungeness crab is hunted along the Pacific coast, with the dungeness crab season spanning the months from December through June, approximately. This is the best time of year to find fresh dungeness crab in your supermarket or local restaurant.

Famed for its sweetness, which is superior to any other kind of crab, the dungeness is also usually fairly sized, too. Some excellent dungeness crab recipes involve the simplest ingredients lists, while others are more elaborated; people’s tastes obviously vary, but no matter how simple of how complicated the dish, there’s a unanimous vote that cooking too long is worse than cooking too little. Therefore, when putting the whole animal in to boil, do so for 10 minutes per pound it weighs, shell and all. If boiling many at the same time, take the average weight of the lot, not the total. This is the most important part of the lesson on how to cook crabs!

Generally speaking, a good tip on how to cook crabs is to condiment the water you boil them in. A little Old Bay, perhaps, or simply bay leaves, celery stalks, salt, or any mixture thereof, as long as it’s in proportion. After boiling for the specified time, you’ll need to get to cleaning it. After rinsing to cool it off, break off the shell-called the carapace-by first removing the apron, covering the reproductive organs. Put your thumb in the resulting hole and pull the shell away from the body, which it should do without too much effort. Discard the shell, or clean it if you want to use it for serving purposes.

Next remove the gills, found behind and to the sides of the face, and the mandibles, which look like extra legs, but aren’t and can easily be distinguished. Then, rinse out the inside of the crab, and get rid of whatever gooey substances that are still in there. Finally, break what remains of the crab in half lengthwise (optional), for easier serving: do so by placing your thumbs along the middle of the belly and pulling down on both sides of the body with your other fingers. A perfect split down the center should ensue.

All that remains is to set the table, and choose a side dish. Melted butter and fresh lemon are a standard method of enjoying dungeness, with a nice cold drink and a hammer and poker to help you along. Use this tutorial on how to cook crabs to make your family a great dinner tonight!