Hooray For Plentiful Dungeness Crabs and A Food Gal Giveaway

Dungeness crab -- how I've missed you.

Dungeness crab — how I’ve missed you.


When this year’s Dungeness crab season opened two weeks ago right on schedule, I breathed a sigh of relief.

As I’m sure did so many fishermen and Dungeness aficionados.

After all, last year was truly dismal, thanks to a toxic algae bloom, which resulted in high levels of domoic acid in the crabs, making them unfit for consumption until the very tail end of the season, by which time most people had sworn them off anyway.

This winter is a different story. The crabs are not only safe to eat, but supposedly meatier because they’ve had more time to grow.

I, for one, am happily indulging already. In fact, thanks to Hayward seafood distributor, Pucci Foods, I enjoyed my first Dungeness crab of the season just a couple days after the local commercial season started. Its new direct-to-consumer site, Daily Fresh Fish, delivers fresh, sustainable seafood right to your door.

I was sent a free sample of its fresh, cooked, cracked and clean Dungeness crab to try. Now, normally, I’m one for buying live crabs to cook at home. Even as a kid, I can still remember the sound of the claws scraping the kitchen sink as my Mom readied the crabs to go into a steamer. And my husband and I remember one crab in particular that fairly tried to grab onto the edge of the pot to keep from being submerged in the boiling water.

If you’re at all squeamish about scenes like that, then cooked crabs may be the ideal alternative. I must admit, it’s hard to beat the convenience. My 2 pounds of cooked, cracked crab arrived safely on my porch, all packed in a cooler lined with ice packs.

Delivered safe and sound.

Delivered safe and sound.

I could have starting eating then and there, either plain or with melted butter or cocktail sauce. But I thought I’d try doing something just slightly more ambitious.

Fortunately, I’d recently received a review copy of the new “Crab: 50 Recipes With the Fresh Taste of the Sea” (Sasquatch Books) by Cynthia Nims, a Seattle-based veteran cookbook author.


The book has a wealth of recipes not just for Dungeness, but soft-shell, king, snow, blue and even stone crab claws. Feast on everything from “Crab & Mushroom Dutch Baby” to ” Whiskey Crab Soup” to “Crab and Corn Souffle.” It also includes illustrated directions to show the exact way to clean a hard-shelled crab like Dungeness, too.

“Rosemary Roasted Crab” was made for my bounty. Although you can roast an uncooked crab in this way, it also works well with an already cooked one, imparting a surprising amount of Mediterranean flavor.

And what flavor it is — awash with lemon, garlic and rosemary. Just toss the cracked crab pieces with olive oil and those aromatics, plus a smidge of dried red pepper flakes, then roast in a very hot oven for about 10 minutes.

Then, dig in to enjoy true finger-licking goodness.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a copy of the cookbook, “Crab” by Cynthia Nims, plus two cooked, cleaned and cracked Dungeness crabs, courtesy of Daily Fresh Fish.

Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST Dec. 3. Winner will be announced Dec. 5.

How to win?

Just tell me why you love Dungeness crab so much. Best answer wins.

Messy, but oh so good.

Messy, but oh so good.

Rosemary Roasted Crab

(Makes 2 to 4 servings)

2 Dungeness crabs (about 2 pounds each), cleaned and portioned, shells lightly cracked if precooked

6 to 8 long sprigs fresh rosemary

1 large lemon, thinly sliced

1/4 cup mild olive oil

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Lay the crab portions in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and top with the rosemary sprigs and lemon slices. Add the oil, garlic, and pepper flakes, and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands to coat the crab pieces with the seasonings, then arrange them in an even layer with most of the rosemary and lemon underneath. If using raw crab, roast the crab until the flesh is just opaque through (use body portions to judge doneness; their flesh will be more visible), about 15 minutes, or roast the precooked crab until it is heated through, 7 to 10 minutes.

Transfer the crab pieces to a serving platter, surround them with rosemary sprigs and lemon slices, and serve.

From “Crab” by Cynthia Nims


Another Crab Recipe to Try: Boiled Crab in Beer

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  • Eating crabs during season is a good substitute for not being able to make it out to the beach! Ah, that smell of the ocean in the meat!

  • I have loved crab since childhood. I would love to treat my husband. Great recipe and giveaway.

  • I still have to get my hands on fresh Dungeness crab this season! I’m so tired of seeing everyone posting about them on social media without me! 😛

  • I love them because my dad introduced me to them and eating Dungeness crabs as well as other seafood items is part of our Christmas Eve tradition.

  • I remember one time we bought live crabs from the supermarket but we didn’t know how to kill them. I thought I could jab a chopstick in between its eyes and stab it in the brain. The feisty crab not only lived but grabbed the chopstick with both claws in an attempt to pull it out. That was the freakiest thing!

    We love Dungeness crab because it has the most meat in the shell, plus the shell is easy to crack. And if you get them fresh off the boat (like we did just this past weekend), the meat is so sweet! Nowadays we simply steam them, crack them, and eat with lemon or brown butter. But we have cooked them with Chinese rice wine, or even endeavored to make Singapore-style chilli crab with them. Lip-smacking good!

  • This sounds really delicious. I’ve never wanted to eat crab except with butter and lemon. I will add this to our Christmas Eve menu. We’ll have it both ways! What wine would you serve with this? Thank-you.

  • Claire: Since it’s Christmas Eve, I don’t think you can go wrong with Champagne. Otherwise, a nice Chardonnay that’s not super oaky or a Spanish Albarino or perhaps even an Italian Verdicchio. Enjoy!

  • Dungeness crabs brings back great memories of catching them off the Pacifica Pier. It was a lot of fun to see how many crabs you could pull up on a crab ring but the real excitement began when the crabs were cooked and laid out on the newspapers thrown hastily on the dining room table. Crab cracker in one hand and the other, ready to throw that sweet meat into some hot garlic butter! What a great meal-so totally worth getting up at the crack of dawn for Dungeness!

  • Oh, Dungeness crab, how do I love thee?
    Let me count the ways.
    I love thee to the depth of the Bay,
    to the breadth of the ocean,
    to the height of the Golden Gate Bridge.
    I love thee purely, for your sweet, tender flesh.
    I love thee with the passion put to use in crafting this plea.
    I love thee with a love I seem to lose each June, your long absences feeding my longing.
    I love thee with the breath, smiles and tears of all my life: and,
    if [FoodGal] chooses me to receive you, I shall but love thee better after [your] death.*

    *that Daily Fresh Fish will graciously handle 🙂

  • i like them cause i love the taste of them so so good in some crab dip

  • Growing up, mom was always the cook in the household.
    But when dad threw down, he meant business.

    Vietnamese style Ginger sauteed crab is one of the things my dad owns and his time to shine.
    In addition to his love for fishing, abalone diving and all things outdoors its crab.

    Dad tosses a touch of XO-sauce for the extra kick in the stir-fry blend of scallions, black pepper, cornstarch, fresh cilantro and its a done deal.
    But that’s not the best part, he takes it home by taking the guts out and throwing it in a wok of fried rice and I’m in heaven.

    Every time I have this dish, I relive fond childhood memories of dad throwing it down in the kitchen and of him always saving my favorite (the guts), strange I know!
    When I take a bite, I’m ten years old again in our living room floor diving into crab shells, legs, a simple lemon pepper sauce atop thick newspaper spread.

  • believe it or not, dungeness crab was the very first real seafood i ever actually enjoyed. we had it at the beach, pretty simply prepared, but it didn’t need anything else–it tasted good as it was! i’ve since expanded my horizons to lobsters and scallops…but not much further than that. 🙂

  • Asa young girl my family spent the summers in Birch Bay, Washington. I was lucky enough to spend many hours walking the shallow waters looking for crabs. I also accompanied my Dad, Uncle, Cousin, Sister and Grandfather to the docks to drop our crab traps and hope for a full trap. My grandmother would prepare us a feast of juicy crab legs, steamed clams, and creamy potato salad. As an adult now I live in Texas and miss spending the summer in the salty air looking for those Dungenous Crabs. Luckily my family now has a place on Penn Cove where I can once a summer drop those traps and savor the bounty it brings forth. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than sharing my love of crab with my husband and two boys.

  • Dungeness crab is so sweet and delicious—I prefer it to lobster. I would love to say that I’ve prepared it in a variety of ways, but honestly it never gets past the basic cracking and eating phase for me, with an occasional dip in browned butter.

  • I love crabs, and Dungeness crab are so tasty…I can seat like hours digging into them…I like to boiled them…that’s it!
    Have a great week Carolyn 🙂

  • I’m married to a fifth generation San Franciscan who thinks Dungeness crab tastes better than anything, including lobster. We are so lucky to live here and be able to walk down to P45 and watch the boats offloading their catch. And we are so glad that this year we actually have a Dungeness crab season open in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    p.s. Ate dinner with friends at Original Joe’s Westlake (Daly City) last night. B. and I shared their crab cocktail. Oh, my. SO MUCH CRAB with just a bit of salad at the bottom of the dish. Cocktail sauce came on the side.

  • The mere mention of Dungeness crab causes my mouth to water! My mind then wanders back to crab salads eaten with crusty bread and a crisp chardonnay, girls’ night out laughing and sharing stories over herb-roasted crab, and a bone-chilling blustery day warded off by Whiskey Crab Soup thanks to Cynthia Nims.

    What a wonderful holiday gift!!

  • I love Dungeness crabs because there are so many amazing recipes they can be used in! My favorite is straight out of the shell dipped in melted garlic butter. Yum! Thanks for the chance!

  • Dungeness crab was a delectable part of my Seattle childhood, just like salmon and geoduck. At Pike Place Market, my mom would ignore the cooked crustaceans and ask for the plumpest, liveliest ones. At home, we put them in a bucket of salted water (and we kids would dare each other to stick our fingers in the bucket without getting pinched). At dinnertime, my mom boiled them in a giant pot–and then we’d sit down to an hour or so of digging out chunks of the silky meat and dipping them in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar and shredded ginger.

    I’m proud that the crab is named after Dungeness, on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. And it’s so much more flavorful and tender than Alaskan king crab.

    I missed the crab completely last year, so I figure I get to eat twice as much this season. Yum.

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