How to Cook Dungeness Crab: A Step by Step Guide

Are you looking for a delicious and easy seafood recipe to impress your friends and family? Look no further than Dungeness crab, a tasty and versatile seafood option that is popular on the West Coast of the United States. In this article, we will go over the steps to cooking Dungeness crab, from selecting the best crab to preparing and serving it.

Choosing the Best Dungeness Crab

The first step to cooking delicious Dungeness crab is to select the best crab possible. Here are some tips to make sure you are picking out a high-quality crab:

1. Look for live crabs: The fresher the crab, the better the taste. When shopping for crabs, look for ones that are still alive and have plenty of energy (you can tell by how much they move in the tank).

2. Check the color and texture of the shell: Ideally, you want a crab with a hard, dark-colored shell that is free of any cracks or blemishes. The shell should also be slightly curved and have a rounded shape.

3. Smell the crab: A fresh crab should have a slightly sweet and briny smell, while a bad crab will have a strong, sour smell.

Preparing the Crab

Once you have selected your Dungeness crab, it’s time to prepare it for cooking. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Kill the crab: Before cooking the crab, you need to kill it humanely. There are several methods for doing this, but the most common is to place the crab in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes until it becomes sluggish, and then quickly place the crab in boiling water or use a sharp knife to sever the spinal cord.

2. Clean the crab: Once the crab is dead, you will need to clean it thoroughly. Remove the top shell (carapace) by twisting and pulling it off. Then, remove the gills and rinse the body and legs under running water to remove any excess dirt or debris.

3. Crack the crab: Using a crab cracker or a nutcracker, crack the claws and legs of the crab to make it easier to remove the meat later.

Cooking the Dungeness Crab

Now that your crab is prepared, it’s time to cook it. Here’s how:

1. Boil the crab: Fill a large pot with enough water to fully submerge the crab. Add salt, black pepper, and any additional seasonings of your choice to the water (such as bay leaves or lemon). Bring the water to a boil, then carefully place the crab into the pot. Boil the crab for about 15 minutes per pound, or until the meat is fully cooked and opaque.

2. Steam the crab: Another option for cooking Dungeness crab is to steam it. Fill a large pot with about an inch of water and add a steamer basket. Place the crab in the basket, cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil. Steam the crab for about 20-30 minutes, or until the meat is fully cooked and opaque.

3. Grill the crab: If you’re looking for a more flavorful and unique way to cook Dungeness crab, try grilling it. Brush the crab with melted butter or olive oil and any seasonings you like, then place the crab on the grill and cook it for about 5 minutes per side, or until the meat is fully cooked and slightly charred.

Serving the Crab

Once your Dungeness crab is cooked, it’s time to serve it up. Here are some tips for making the most of your crab:

1. Serve with butter: Melted butter is a classic accompaniment to Dungeness crab. Add a sprinkle of lemon juice or Old Bay seasoning to the butter for extra flavor.

2. Prepare a dipping sauce: Mix together mayonnaise, lemon juice, and your favorite seasonings (such as garlic or paprika) to create a delicious dipping sauce for the crab.

3. Enjoy with sides: Dungeness crab is delicious on its own, but it also pairs well with sides like roasted vegetables or a salad. Serve the crab with a glass of white wine to complete the meal.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: How can I tell if my Dungeness crab is fully cooked?
A: The meat of a fully cooked Dungeness crab will be opaque and firm. You can also use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature has reached 145°F.

Q: Can I cook Dungeness crab in the oven?
A: While you can technically cook Dungeness crab in the oven, it is not a common method and can result in overcooked or dry meat. Stick with boiling, steaming, or grilling for the best results.

Q: Do I need to clean the crab before boiling it?
A: Yes, it is important to clean the crab before cooking it to remove any dirt or debris. This will also make it easier to crack and remove the meat later.

In conclusion, Dungeness crab is a delicious and versatile seafood option that can be cooked in a variety of ways. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can select, prepare, cook, and serve a high-quality crab that is sure to impress. Don’t forget to add your own seasonings and accompaniments to make the dish your own!