Fresh Dungeness Crab
Finally! Fresh Dungeness crab has arrived! A distinct culinary highlight to a Northern California winter, the Dungeness crab with its subtly sweet and delicate meat, is a culinary treat this time of year. Traditionally expected to arrive to market in time for the holidays, state wildlife officials delayed the start to the commercial Dungeness crab season off the Sonoma Coast to prevent endangered whales from getting entangled in the fishing gear. The season finally opened up last week and the tasty crustaceans are now available locally—steamed, cleaned, and cracked on-site at Sonoma Market.
Ask any seafood lover and they will tell you the most delicious way to enjoy Dungeness crab is to eat it freshly steamed and absolutely unadulterated in any way. No marinating, no steeping, no nothing. Because of the delicate and mild flavor of the meat, dipping sauces should be kept to a minimum. Purists enjoy a squeeze of lemon and a dip in drawn butter or an aioli or mild cocktail sauce will complement the flavor nicely. A simple green salad and tangy sourdough bread are the perfect accompaniments to serve alongside.
A feast of fresh crab would not be complete without the requisite wine pairing. Best to keep to white varietals and those that are balanced in acidity. A Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio fits the bill nicely. The wine should complement and accentuate the crab, not overpower its delicate flavor. You want to cleanse the palate with each sip which then sets you up for the next bite.
A typical crab weighs between 2 and 2 ½ pounds and will comfortably feed two. Should you find yourself with leftovers, the meat makes a wonderfully hearty garnish to creamy Carrot-Ginger Soup perfect for a cold winter day.
Carrot Ginger Soup
Serves 4 to 6
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 pounds carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cups chicken stock
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ pound lump crabmeat
1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, ginger, and carrots and sauté until the onion is tender, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the carrots are tender, approximately 20 minutes.
2. Puree the mixture using a hand-held blender or food processor. Stir in the orange juice, cream, and cumin and bring the mixture to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and garnish with the crabmeat.