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Cracking Up


The reason for the season: Dungeness Crab

I feel like I’m two-timing on my East coast roots by admitting what I’m about to admit, but here goes: I think I might like Dungeness crab more than lobster. There. I’ve said it. Don’t get me wrong—I’ll always have a special place in my heart for a Maine lobster roll (see our May issue for more details on the closest approximation I’ve found within the city limits)—but I am head over heels for our local crab.

So, it was with great pleasure that I accepted an invitation to a friend’s house for dinner last Saturday. The invitation said the crab-fest would start promptly at 7:00pm “with the crack on a claw.” That was kind of a lie—it began promptly at 7:00pm with kumquat caipirhina’s and a bevy of pickled vegetables from the farmer’s market, but who’s watching the clock? It quickly proceeded to the claw cracking, and it was a glorious sight to behold. There was crab piled high on a newspaper-covered table, and I got to work. Crab aficionados probably have their preferred eating strategy, but I like to do all the cracking at once, then dig into a molehill of meat. Turns out another guest at the party likes that method, too. The photo above is of his plate.

My host told me he got what he thought were the last local crabs of the season, but I made a call to Swan Oyster Depot (1517 Polk St., 673-1101) one of my favorite seafood spots in the city, and was kindly informed that they’ll have local crabs there for a little while longer. You may see Dungeness crabs year-round at markets, but know that they are coming from further afield—Washington and Alaska being likely. The local season for crabs runs from late November until late April, weather (and fishing restrictions) permitting. In other words, you have a little time—but you better get crackin’.