Dungeness crab has been long-recognized as a delicacy, but it can be intimidating for home cooks to tackle. With its delicate texture and sweet flavor, having the right knowledge and techniques on how to cook Dungeness crab is essential for achieving the most delicious results. Journalist Lily Morgan is here to guide you through the process, from selecting and prepping fresh crab all the way through to plating a savory and succulent masterpiece. Read on and get ready to enjoy the delightful flavors of Dungeness crab!
Selecting & Preparing Your Dungeness Crab
The first step in cooking Dungeness crab is to select your crab. It is important to purchase fresh crab, and to make sure that your crab is alive when you purchase it. If there is a fishmonger at the market, ask them to select the best crab for you. If you’re purchasing frozen crab, look for crab that has been previously cooked, as this will make your job easier. Once you have the crab, you will need to prepare it for cooking.
To start, you will need to thaw the crab if it is frozen. Once thawed, remove the top shell and discard it, then rinse the crab and remove the gills and inedible parts. If you are using a live crab, the process is slightly different – you will need to kill the crab first by placing it in the freezer for 20 minutes, then boiling it for 2-3 minutes. Once cooked, you can remove the top shell and proceed as above.
Once your crab is prepped, you are ready to start cooking. The most basic method is to boil the crab in salted water for 15-20 minutes until it is cooked through. You can also steam the crab, in which case you will need to steam it for 10-15 minutes. For either method, you can add herbs and spices to the boiling water or steam to add flavor.
Tips & Techniques For Cooking Dungeness Crab
The key to a succulent and flavorful Dungeness crab is to not overcook it. You can check for doneness by pulling on a leg – if it comes off easily, it is cooked. Alternatively, you can insert a knife into the thickest part of the shell and check that the meat is opaque and cooked through. Once cooked, you can cool the crab down quickly by plunging it into cold water.
If you are looking to add more flavor to your crab, you can marinate it beforehand. A simple marinade of olive oil, garlic, herbs, and lemon juice will give your crab an extra flavor boost. You can also incorporate the marinade into your cooking liquid, either by boiling or steaming the crab with the marinade, or by adding it to the boiling water or steam.
Finally, for an extra bit of decadence, you can grill your Dungeness crab. To do this, you will need to remove the top and bottom shells and break the crab into sections. Brush the sections with butter or oil, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 2-3 minutes per side. This will give you a smoky, charred flavor that is sure to impress.
Accompaniments For Dungeness Crab
Once your Dungeness crab is cooked, it’s time to serve it! Serving crab can be as simple as a side of garlic butter or lemon wedges, or you can get creative and serve it with other accompaniments. A light salad, such as a citrus and herb salad, is a great option, as is a creamy seafood chowder or a classic creamy garlic aioli. If you’re feeling more adventurous, feel free to experiment with different flavors and ingredients – you may be surprised at what you come up with!
For a special occasion, Dungeness crab can be served as a main course. Serve it with a side of steamed or roasted vegetables, or a starch such as mashed potatoes, pilaf, or risotto. Or, for an extra-special presentation, serve your crab on a bed of noodles or pasta. Whatever accompaniments you choose, you’re sure to have a delicious meal!
Cooking Dungeness crab is a surprisingly simple process, and with the right techniques and accompaniments, you can create a delicious and impressive meal. So don’t be intimidated – get out there and give it a try! To paraphrase the wise words of Stevie Wonder, “Isn’t it crab-tastic?”