By Chef Domenica Catelli
It’s that time of year: crab season! I live about 45 minutes from the California coastline, where Dungeness crabs are in abundance.
The first round of crabs we enjoy in this classic and simple way: We get them live and cook them fresh in a boil of bay leaf, garlic, salt, cayenne, lemon, Italian seasoning and salt. From there just a bit of fresh lemon and garlic butter for dipping is all you need for a delicious and satisfying lunch or dinner.
As the season goes on we will put crab cakes back on the menu. Then, a crab salad with grapefruit, avocado, shaved fennel and Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Next, there is a melt-in-your mouth crab ravioli (that’s probably my favorite), or the Ciopinnio with a spicy tomato broth and a crusty piece of warm sourdough to sop up the sauce.
There are so many directions to go with this rich and decadent crustacean. The good news is not only are crabs delicious, but they have health benefits too! Crabs are nutrient dense—they are high in B12, niacin, phosphorus, zinc and copper. They are also high in protein. Many markets this time of year have whole crabs, cooked fresh, that you can enjoy at home by simply cracking them open and garnishing with a squeeze of lemon juice. If you aren’t up for all that work, make sure and ask for the staff to crack and clean your crab for you (you will be charged more but you will get to eat your meal much more quickly).
If you are more adventurous and want to bring a live crab home and cook from scratch it’s time to put on your thick skin! Putting a live crab into a pot can make one a bit squeamish. They don’t take long to cook. Add your crab to water when it’s rapidly boiling and pull out after about 4 minutes. Let crab cool enough that you can pop off top shell and clean out the guts. There’s nothing interesting you can do with these, so go ahead and discard them (make sure and double bag your garbage and take it out of your house or it will smell like a rotten ocean come morning). From here, you can either: a) enjoy right away b) chill and serve up to two days later cold or c) return to crab boil quickly to warm through and serve hot.
Until next time, stay fresh and delicious!
Are you a crab fan? What’s your favorite recipe? Share it in the comments below or in our Food and Cooking Community.