All About The Dungeness
While the variety of produce at the Winter Market improves each week as the weather warms, there are many other delicious local foods to be enjoyed. One of our favorites is the Pacific Northwest’s own Dungeness crab. Did you know that we are smack in the middle of Dungeness Crab season? This is the peak time of year to buy these beloved crustaceans. Dungeness crabs are sustainably harvested as noted by the Monterey Bay Aquarium explaining the “the Dungeness crab fishery is well managed and healthy, only large male crabs may be caught and there is no fishing allowed during the breeding season.” They are caught using wire cages called pots rather than bottom trawls which decreases harmful by-catch resulting in fewer marine species being sacrificed. In Oregon, the Dungeness crab industry is a $40 billion dollar business.
At the market, you can find whole Dungeness crab available from Linda Brand Crab or from Skipanon Seafood. (These vendors also sell crab legs or crab meat, if you don't feel like tackling a whole crab!). And, if you'd rather not wrestle with a crab at all, we highly recommend that you pick up a few crab cakes from Quinn's Crab Cakes. David Quinn's crab cakes are incredibly delicious and make for an easy and impressive meal. (Available in regular or gluten free!) See below for our tips on how to break down a crab, as well as our favorite recipe for crab dip. Tis the season, after all!
Cracking Oregon Dungeness Crab Like a Pro! If you've never cracked a crab yourself, we'll have you performing like a pro in no time. Crack in the privacy of your own kitchen. Or, throw a crack-it-yourself crab feast and invite your guests to participate with gusto! Just follow these easy steps.
1.Twist off each leg (including the two large legs with claws) where they join the body. Break off small pincer and discard. Use your fingers and a self-assured manner.
2. Break large claws in two at the dotted line, and crack with a nut cracker. Or place on a cutting board and give a light whack with a mallet or small hammer. Most purists consider this the choicest meat in the entire crab, so oohs and ahs are appropriate. You may wish to nibble as you go, dipping your crab meat in drawn butter or cocktail sauce, or squeeze on a spritz of fresh lemon juice. 3. Crack next two joints of largest legs with nutcracker or mallet, and remove juicy, succulent meat. It's perfectly acceptable - if you're carried away with the proper amount of adventure - to suck meat out of the shell, as if using a straw. Or if you feel timid, use a nut pick or cocktail fork to remove. 4. Repeat the cracking procedure on the top two joints of rest of legs. Don't miss a single piece of flavorful meat. 5. Smaller joints of legs can be snapped with fingers and meat either sucked out or removed with pick or fork. Or, show a little creative flair and use the pointed joints at the tip of crab legs as picks! 6. Grasp main body of crab with two hands and firmly snap in two. Place each section on cutting board and strike with mallet to break small "bones" and loosen meat. Or, the more flamboyant and independent crackers may simply use their fingers to separate and remove meat. A pick or cocktail fork comes in handy, too.
Keep Crab Meat Cold and Fresh By this point, you've probably been eating as fast as you've been cracking. But if you're filled with will-power and are planning to store the crab for devouring later, be sure to cover meat and keep refrigerated until use. If you wish to keep longer than two or three days, pack in a moisture and vapor proof container (a glass jar is perfect). Crumple plastic wrap or lightweight foil and place in top of container to exclude all air. Cap container tightly and freeze.
Crab Dip This dip is easy and addictive! And, it's a great way to enjoy some delicious crab in the heart of crab season. Combine: 2 c. Mayonnaise ¾ c. chili sauce 2T. Worcestershire ¼ c. curry powder 1 T. Grated onion Juice of one lemon 1 ½ T. Dijon mustard ½ lb. flaked crab meat It's as easy as that! Enjoy!