Crab Feed

When friends come from out of town to visit, I like to give them the opportunity to feel awkward, get dirty, and maybe even impale themselves on a sharp object. I feed them crab. A fresh-caught mess of Dungeness crabs in the shell offers all these advantages, not to mention the reward of sweet, succulent meat that is as much a feature of the West Coast as the blue crab is of the East—only better.

The setup is simple. Newspaper on table, boiled crab on newspaper, beer in hand. There was a time when I melted sticks of butter and left a can of Old Bay out, but I’m over such garish additives now. Crab wants to be eaten neat.

My approach to this time-honored Puget Sound ritual is a little different from most. For one thing, I don’t own a boat. I don’t even have a crab pot. No, I get in the cold cold water—on the crab’s turf. A wetsuit and snorkel are my crab-catching accoutrements. But don’t be fooled. While neoprene gloves may seem safe to the uninitiated, woe to the blasé crab-catcher who allows a careless pinkie to stray into the pinchers of an angry Dungeness…

It’s crab season. For now I’m stock-piling crabs in the freezer, but I’ll post some recipes soon.

4 thoughts on “Crab Feed

  1. Poppy

    We had crab cakes at my brother’s house on Orcas a few weeks ago. The crab was part of a trade with a friend with a crab pot. I’ve been thinking about that fresh crab ever since. Do you have a good source for those of us without the ability to catch our own?

  2. Finspot

    Like you said Hank, I was going to suggest to Poppy to try setting a pot off a pier–but then you have to hang around for a while waiting. Not nearly as exciting as grappling with ’em underwater. I’ve also heard of a spinning rod technique: you chuck out a baited & weighted birdnest of monofilament and wait for the crab to get entangled, then reel in.

    Otherwise it’s top dollar at the local market. You might find better prices with a back alley I-District fishmonger, but you never know how long those crabs have been sitting in the tanks…

  3. ladyflyfsh

    Man, that’s hard core! I had crab rings I used to use but diving in is really the way to go cuz you can see what you’re getting and pick the big’uns! Right on!


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