Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dungeness Crab

Here's the crab recipe from Monday, thanks to Sam!

Prep/cook time: 20 minutes. Serves two.

Buy one whole, precooked Dungeness crab. Fresh crab is best, but frozen is fine. The advantage to buying a fresh crab is that you can ask the person behind the meat counter to clean it for you, although frequently they may not know exactly how to do so.

If you need to clean the crab yourself (or want to talk the folks behind the counter through the process,) here's how to do so. If you bought a frozen crab, you'll need to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or in hot water ahead of time. It can be cleaned as soon as it has thawed.
  1. Slide a knife along and under the straight seam along the back of the top shell. As you jimmy it, it comes loose and pops off whole.
  2. Quickly scrape ALL of the innards out into a trash bag. The innards are usually rather smelly, so you'll want to take the trash out more or less immediately. Be very thorough and remove everything from the body cavity, especially the feather-like 'devil's fingers' as they will make you quite sick if you eat them. These may sometimes even look white like the meat, but trust me on this and throw away everything that you can clean out of the body cavity without breaking the body apart. You should only be eating white, firm meat- no yellow, green, red, or feathery stuff.
  3. Remove the mouth-plates- there's nothing edible about them. Also, there's a plate on the bottom that can be popped off easily to help break it in two.
Divide your cleaned crab in half (they usually split evenly with a little finesse) and set the crab halves in a large pot of water.

Bring to a boil, and depending on how fresh or thawed the crab was, only boil it to re-heat the meat. It doesn't take long: 5-15 minutes. Drain the water, let the shell cool to the touch, and pick up crab half by the leg so any water can drain out from the main body cavity. Arrange it on a plate next to something colorful like asparagus or half an artichoke*.

Serve with a side dish of melted garlic butter for dipping.

One crab will serve two people, provided that you have a little something else on the side. I highly recommend the asparagus or '1/2 artichoke each' idea, with a nice side-salad to end with to cleanse the pallet of the butter heaviness. It's better to eat extra of the cooked or raw greens than add bread.

*While the crab is cooking, prepare and cook your asparagus or artichoke. An artichoke only takes 8 minutes in a pressure cooker. Asparagus is best under-cooked so still slightly crunchy, so cook it for less than 5 minutes in boiling water.


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