By themselves, freshly caught Dungeness crabs make the Pacific Northwest a worthy food destination. Steam boiling them in a large, covered frying pan results in a gourmet meal for two. This recipe works equally well with both fresh and pre-cooked crabs.
Growing up, a highlight of every summer was our vacations on North Carolina’s Outer Banks where a kettle of freshly boiled blue crabs were spread out on a newspaper tablecloth, crab crackers were passed out, and lunch was served. Blue crabs are relatively small, but their succulent meat makes the pickin’ totally worth the effort. In those days, we dipped chunks of crab in straight melted butter or somewhat fancier drawn butter if we were at a restaurant.
A large 12.5 inch skillet is perfect for two Dungeness crabs as each can fully sit in the simmering liquid. Your choice of bread with this meal may be as important as your choice of wine. It’s hard to beat a loaf of good sourdough bread and a buttery Chardonnay. La Crema has proven year in and year out to produce just such a wine at a reasonable price.
Years later I moved to Oregon and discovered Dungeness crabs. Weighing in at around a pound-and-three-quarters each, there’s enough meat in one Dungeness to satisfy a hearty eater. And their flavor? We’ve eaten all kinds of of crabs; our favorites are Dungeness and blues, but other types are delicious as well. This is our favorite cooking method, and after years of experimenting with different dipping sauce combinations, we’ve perfected a combination of lime, soy sauce, olive oil, butter and garlic.
Honeymoon Dungeness Crabs
Ingredients: (You will need a large frying pan with a lid. We use a Swiss Diamond 12.5 inch pan.)
- 2 whole Dungeness crabs, preferably fresh but pre-cooked is absolutely fine
- 12 ounces of a good beer such as a red amber
- 3 – 4 tablespoons miso paste
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tsp sea salt
Directions: (A general rule is to cook Dungeness crabs for about 15 – 18 minutes – roughly 7 – 8 minutes per pound.)
- Rinse crabs. Use a brush to remove any mud.
- Over high heat, mix ingredients thoroughly and position crabs bottom side down.
- Bring to a low boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 7 minutes.
- Use tongs to flip crabs onto their backs and continue simmering for 7 minutes.
- Remove crabs from skillet and let them rest on their backs for a few minutes before flipping over and serving belly side down.
Lime, Soy, Olive Oil, Butter and Garlic Dipping Sauce
Ingredients: (measurements are approximate)
- 6 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 – 3 tbsp soy sauce
- a few cloves of garlic either chopped fine or minced
- juice from 1 large lime or 2 small limes
- In small pan over medium-low heat, melt 2 tbsp butter. Add the garlic and lightly sauté for a minute or two.
- Reduce heat to low and add the rest of the butter and completely melt.
- Add the remaining ingredients, mix and heat through thoroughly.
- Pour into separate dipping bowls and serve.