How to Cook:
It’s Dungeness Crab season right now, September to June, on the Pacific Coast of North America. Much of the time you will find whole crabs already cooked and chilled. If not, and you’re buying live crabs, then the rule of thumb is to steam or boil them for 7-8 minutes per pound. If boiling in multiple crabs, start timing when the water comes back to a boil. Base the number of minutes needed for cooking on the average crab weight, not the total weight.
Once your crab is cooked, rinse under cool water until just cool enough to handle. The crab in the photo below is a cooked crab. You can tell because the shell has turned from a blue/gray when alive to a bright orange when cooked.
How to clean the crab:
Turn the crab on its back and remove the triangular shaped flap called the “apron” and discard.
Hold the crab vertically and pull the top shell (called the carapace) away from the body and set aside. Rinse and clean the top shell and reserve if you want to use in your presentation.
Remove the gills/lungs and discard. Remove the mandible (mouth) and discard.
Rinse the body and and then cut or break in half down the center.
Cut the legs into sections through the body.
Gently crack the legs with a mallet or the back side of a heavy knife or cleaver.
To serve, place the cracked legs on a platter or individual plates with your choice of sauce and fresh lemon wedges. If presenting a whole crab, arrange the legs as they would be on a live crab with the body pieces toward the center and place a cleaned carapace (top shell) on top.
If serving cold, chill in the refrigerator until ready.
If serving hot, serve immediately or rewarm in steamer basket for 30 seconds.
Serve cold with cocktail sauce, fresh wedges of lemon, garlic aioli, or for a classic 1950’s throwback, Russian dressing.
Serve hot with melted butter, fresh wedges of lemon, garlic butter or stir-fry Singapore style with chilies and tomato.
To eat, remove the crab meat with your fingers or pick it out with a small oyster fork, lobster pick, or the tip of a crab claw.
Provide discard bowls for your guests to place the empty shells, and plenty of napkins or even hot damp towels for cleaning hands at the end of the meal.
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