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How To Cook, Clean and Serve a Dungeness Crab - Bite Size Seattle

Brett Godfrey

Brett Godfrey is the Marketing Manager for the JanusGroup at RE/MAX Integrity, a real estate team where he crafts compelling stories that sell homes, ...

Brett Godfrey is the Marketing Manager for the JanusGroup at RE/MAX Integrity, a real estate team where he crafts compelling stories that sell homes, ...

Jan 28 6 minutes read

How To Cook, Clean, And Serve A Dungeness Crab

Bite Size Seattle Episode 1

Bite Size Seattle - Episode 1

In the first episode of Bite Size Seattle, our Marketing Manager, Brett Godfrey, takes you into the kitchen to show you how to cook, clean and serve a Dungeness crab. 

Below is a rough transcript of the video.

Video Transcript

Hi there. In this video, I'm going to show you how to cook, clean, and serve this delicious Dungeness crab as a dinner for two people.


I'm Brett, and I'm here in Seattle's Rainier Valley neighborhood at Mutual Fish, serving Seattle's seafood needs since 1947. Let's go inside and get a Dungeness crab!

Can I get one Dungeness crab, please? Thank you!


While we wait for the water to come to a boil, let's talk a little bit about the Dungeness crab.
The Dungeness crab gets its name from the town of Dungeness, Washington - a waterfront community at the top of the Olympic Peninsula between Port Angeles and Port Townsend that was the first place to commercially fish the crab, starting back in 1848.
The Dungeness crab is found up and down the Pacific coast, stretching from Alaska down to Santa Barbara, California. It is plentiful and easy to procure, you can even go crabbing in the Puget Sound - with a license - and bring home your own catch!
Why do people enjoy Dungeness crab? For starters, the bodies of the crabs are huge! By Washington state law, all crabs caught in the wild must be at least 6 and one quarter inches wide. This crab is eight inches wide. 

In addition to being beautiful, Dungeness crabs are also delicious. They have a wonderful flavor that tastes like the Pacific, and is delicate and almost sweet. The best way to enjoy Dungeness crab is fresh, boiled and enjoyed as-is, or adorned with a little bit of melted butter or lemon to suit your taste. It doesn't need any fancy sauces or elaborate techniques, just boil it, clean it and eat it! And that's what I'm going to do today with this crab.
Ok, the salted water is now boiling. Let's get the crab cooking!
I'm going to cook the crab for 14 minutes, because this crab weighs just over 2 pounds and you cook it for seven minutes per pound.
Now that the crab is cooked, I'm going to put it in an ice bath to stop the cooking process, as the crab meat is very delicate.
Now that the crab is cooked and chilled, we're going to clean it so that we can enjoy it. This can be a bit intimidating the first time you do it, but I promise it is easier than it looks. You've already cooked it, you cannot mess up the taste from here on out. 

Let's get started.


Holding the Dungeness crab over a bowl, because there is a lot of liquid in the shell, pull the top of the shell off by inserting your finger into the crack between the top and the bottom and giving a firm pull until it comes apart.
This colorful stuff in here is a mixture of liver and other organs that are sometimes called "crab butter" or "crab mustard" - a delicacy that is an acquired taste. Crabs are bottom feeders and toxins can accumulate in this "crab butter." If you're going to eat it, do so sparingly. I'm not going to eat this today, so I'll set this aside.
Now, clean the gills off, they are not edible.
Then remove the mouth portion of the shell by putting your thumb inside and pushing down. This comes apart in two pieces.
Now remove the apron, using a small tool like an oyster shucker if necessary.


There are two final steps:

First, we're going to break the Dungeness crab in half by holding the two sides and breaking it along the north/south seam in the shell. Push down, and then pull it back, resulting in two perfect halves.
Finally, clean the last of the guts from the outside edge by banging the crab half on the edge of the bowl.


Each half is a great portion size for one person.
I serve Dungeness crab like this, because it's much more photogenic, and because cracking the shells is a fun and messy part of the Dungeness crab experience to do communally at the table with your dining companions.
Make sure you have an empty bowl on the table for shells, and extra towels to clean up any additional cooking liquid.
Oh, and melted butter and lemon wedges.


I've also whipped up some sauteed broccolini, and preserved lemon potato salad to go alongside the Dungeness crab. This preserved lemon potato salad is a great recipe from Seattle chef and restauranteur Renee Erickson's delightful cookbook - A Boat, A Whale, & A Walrus.

I'd recommend serving the Dungeness crab with a crisp white wine, like this Pinot Gris from The Marigny in the Willamette Valley.

Thanks for watching the first episode of Bite Size Seattle! Cheers! 

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