Monday, November 28, 2005

Dungeness Crab Season, Finally!

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, there’s good reason to celebrate today. Dungeness crab season is finally here. It officially started on November 15th, but the crab fishermen did not launch their boats because they couldn’t agree on a price with the commercial processors, large distributors that sell to restaurants and stores. After almost two weeks of hemming and hawing, both groups agreed on a price of $1.75/lb. So rush to your local fishmonger now and haul in some of these fresh delicacies. And don’t forget, the best wine to wash down the delicate, sweet flavorful meat of crab is a Riesling.

A few recommendations. The ultimate way to enjoy crab is to buy fresh live ones, then steam them and eat them at home. Beware of false labeling, though. I really don’t know why (I really think it’s even deceptive) fish vendors label cooked crabs as “fresh”. How can something that’s already cooked be fresh? I mean, do you expect fresh fish at the market to be cooked? A ridiculous practice that must be stopped.

A Dungeness crab cooked the right way at home is a hundred times better than store-bought cooked crabs or even crab ordered from a restaurant. The broth, where much of the flavor is, is intact when you cook the crab at home. When you pry open the shell, invert the crab first so that the underside of the crab is facing up. This way, the precious, delicious broth doesn’t spill out from the top shell. Slurp this juice from the shell, it’s like having soup first before the main entrée. And after you snap off the legs and claws, suck up the juice from the open ends before cracking them. Mmmm. Simply delicious!

Simply Way to Steam Crab at Home:

Rinse live crab under cold running water from faucet. Place crab in a deep pot. Pour no more than an inch of liquid in the pot. I recommend using dry white wine, or dry vermouth, or Chinese Shao Xing wine. Season with sea salt and cracked pepper, plus I like sprinkling a bit of dried thyme for extra flavor and aroma. Then throw in a dab or two of butter. Let simmer on the stovetop for about 15 minutes for one crab or 25 minutes if you have two to three crabs in the pot. When cooked, let stand for a couple of minutes then serve piping hot. Don’t forget to pour yourself a glass of Riesling!

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