Among the many, many things wrong with 2020: There was no Dungeness crab season. But hark! 2021 is here and, with it, those sweet, sweet crustaceans.
Supplies are limited, so grab your fresh Dungeness crab while you can. You'll find it on takeout menus at several Bay Area restaurants but, if you feel so inclined, there's also reward in getting them cracked and cleaned at your local market and roasting them up yourself. Here you'll find both classic and modern recipes from restaurants including Scoma's, Nick's Cove, Slanted Door, and Mezcalito.
Enjoy! And PS: You won't regret stashing some extra crab in the freezer for later.
Secret Recipe: Dungeness Crab Mac 'n’ Cheese from Nick's Cove
(Courtesy of Nick's Cove)
Ladies and gentleman, it's Dungeness crab season!
Nick's Cove, the picturesque Point Reyes restaurant, benefits from its seaside location by sourcing fresh seafood from Tomales Bay. The chefs toss hunks of crab into gooey mac n' cheese for a decadent take on a homey classic—now it's yours, road trip not required.
Nick's Cove Dungeness Crab Mac n' Cheese
1 pound Dungeness crab meat
2 pounds dried elbow macaroni pasta
1/2 pound unsalted butter
3/4 cup flour
1/2 gallon whole milk
1/2 gallon heavy cream
2 leeks, white part only, sliced
1 cup Point Reyes Toma, shredded
1 cup Spring Hill Cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded
Salt to taste
Fresh lemon juice (from 1/4 lemon)
Parsley, chopped (for garnish)
Toasted breadcrumbs (for garnish)
1. In a large pot, bring three gallons of water to a rolling boil.
2. Add pasta and boil, stirring occasionally, 6-8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
3. In another large pot, begin melting the butter.
4. Add the leeks and sweat 5-10 minutes, until soft.
5. Add the flour. Stir constantly; cook until the mixtures bubbles for 2-3 minutes and smells like shortbread.
6. Add the milk and bring to a boil; reduce to simmer. Allow the mixture to reduce while simmering, approximately 5 minutes.
7. Add the cream and again allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
8. Add all the cheese and whisk until incorporated.
9. Add salt to taste; add 3-5 drops of Tabasco sauce and the juice of a quarter lemon.
10. Pour over pasta and add crab meat, stirring to incorporate.
11. Serve with toasted breadcrumbs and parsley.
// Nick's Cove remains temporarily closed during Covid-19; 23240 Hwy. 1 (Marshall), nickscove.com
Secret Recipe: Slanted Door's Dungeness Crab With Cellophane Noodles
(Courtesy of Slanted Door)
Try your hand at the famous Dungeness crab with cellophane noodles from Charles Phan's The Slanted Door.
The dish is mash-up of translucent green bean noodles (aka glass noodles) and fat chunks of crab that provide a sweet mouthful between umami-laden slurps.
Dungeness crab with cellophane noodles
3½ ounces cellophane noodles
1 tablespoon canola oil
3½ ounces Dungeness (or blue) crabmeat
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions, white and light green parts only
4 tablespoons chicken stock (see below)
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1½ teaspoons oyster sauce
¼ teaspoon ground
Cilantro, for garnish
1. Soak the noodles in warm water for 10 minutes. Drain and let sit for about an hour, or until the noodles feel dry to the touch but are still flexible.
2. Place a wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates on contact. Add the oil and continue heating until the oil is shimmering.
3. Add the crab and green onions, and briefly sauté, about 1 minute.
4. Add the cellophane noodles and stir.
5. Add the chicken stock, fish sauce, and oyster sauce, and continue stirring for another few minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
6. Add the black pepper and stir until well combined.
7. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.
Makes about 5 1/2 quarts
1 large yellow onion, unpeeled
3-inch piece fresh ginger
7 pounds bony chicken parts such as back, wings, and necks
1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
1 ½ ounces light brown palm sugar or light brown sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Place the onion and ginger on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour, until the onion is soft and beginning to ooze.
3. Remove from the oven and let the onion and ginger cool until they can be handled.
4. Peel the onion and cut in half. Slice the unpeeled ginger into ¼-inch-thick coins.
5. While the onion and ginger are roasting, blanch the chicken bones.
6. To ensure the pot is large enough to blanch the bones without boiling over, put the bones in the pot and add water to cover by 1 inch. Remove the bones and bring the water to a boil.
7. When it is at a rolling boil, add the bones, return the water to a boil and boil for 3 minutes.
8. Drain the chicken into a colander and rinse under cold running water.
9. Rinse the pot and return the rinsed chicken to the pot.
10. Add the onion halves, ginger slices, salt, sugar, and 8 quarts fresh water to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any scum that forms on the surface.
11. Lower the heat so the liquid is at a gentle simmer and simmer for 4 hours, skimming as needed to remove any scum that forms on the surface.
12. Remove from the heat and, using a spider or a slotted spoon, remove and discard the large solids.
13. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large container, let sit for a few minutes, then skim most of the fat from the surface (optional).
14. Use immediately, or let cool completely.
15. The stock can keep refrigerated for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
// Slanted Door remains temporarily closed during Covid-19 but is offering meal kits at Bi-Rite in SF and for nationwide shipping; 1 Ferry Building (Embarcadero), slanteddoor.com.
Secret Recipe: Woodhouse Fish Co.'s Garlic White Wine Dungeness Crab
Who better to provide a quick and easy way to serve up some Dungeness? Woodhouse Fish Co. delivers.
Garlic White Wine Dungeness Crab
Serves 1 as an entrée, 4 as an appetizer
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
8 ounces dry white wine (preferably Sauvignon blanc)
1 2-pound crab steamed, cleaned, and cracked (cut each leg with the body meat attached)
4 ounces vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons whole butter
1 lemon, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds
2-3 basil leaves with stems attached
1. Sautée the garlic in the oil in medium pan on medium high heat until fragrant.
2. Deglaze with white wine.
3. Add vegetable stock when the alcohol has cooked off.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Place the crab legs in pan and rest lemon slices and basil on top of them.
6. Place butter in the broth and cover with a lid.
7. Cook at a simmer for 4 minutes. The crab should be hot and the butter should be incorporated in to the sauce.
8. Remove the crab legs and place them in a bowl.
9. Stir the basil and lemon into the broth.
10. Check for seasoning and pour the broth over the legs.
11. Enjoy as is, or with sourdough to dip in the broth.
// Woodhouse Fish Co. is currently open for takeout; 2073 Market St. (Castro) and 1914 Fillmore St. (Pac Heights), woodhousefish.com
Secret Recipe: Bellota's Dungeness Crab Paella
A big dish of paella always makes a grand entrance on the dinner table and, at Bellota, that classic Spanish meal really does show off.
The SoMa restaurant serves a few different versions, but it's the sweet Dungeness crab rendition, roasted with chili and garlic and piled atop bacon- and corn- speckled bomba rice, that's really got our attention. Go ahead, try making it at home.
Roasted Chili and Garlic Dungeness Crab Paella
Chili garlic sauce
½ cup garlic, minced
½ cup Mediterranean chili paste
½ cup lemon juice
1 cup extra virgin olive oil, Spanish Arbequina olive preferred
½ cup flat leaf parsley, sliced finely
1 tablespoon pimenton, mild
1. Heat the oil on medium heat in a small sauce pot until warm but not smoking.
2. Add the garlic and cook until lightly golden.
3. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice to stop the cooking of the garlic.
4. Place the pot back on the heat for approximately 5 minutes.
5. Add the other ingredients and cook for a few more minutes to bring the ingredients together. Remove from heat and set aside.
1.5 to 2 pounds of fresh cooked crab, partially cracked and top shell removed.
1 cup bomba rice
1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans, canned is a good substitute
1 cup cleaned corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 cup bacon, cooked and roughly chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers strips
¼ cup olive oil
1 each yellow onion, small dice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon pimenton, mild
1 quart premade stock (fish, chicken, or vegetable will all work)
Note: You should use a paella pan for this recipe. A pan that is 11 or 12 inches will work best. If you do not have a paella pan, then a cast iron skillet, or other thick bottomed pan, is a good substitute.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the crab in an oven-safe baking dish with cavity of the crab facing up. Pour the chili-garlic sauce over the crab, evenly coating the exposed meat and cracks in the shell.
2. Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, basting the crab every few minutes with a spoon. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, placing the paella pan on the largest burner, heat the olive oil on medium high.
4. Add the onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent. This should take about 10 minutes.
5. Add the tomato to the pan and continue to cook until the tomato has reduced from a sauce to a paste. (Be careful to not to let the sugars in the tomato caramelize or burn.)
6. Turn the heat to low and add the pimenton and rice by sprinkling evenly over the entire pan. Stir to coat.
7. Once the rice is coated, add the stock and bring to a simmer. Stir for the first 6 minutes, and then add the garbanzo beans, bacon, corn, and red pepper strips.
8.Then, making sure the rice is in an even layer along the bottom of the paella pan, leave on medium heat and do not stir. Cook for 10 minutes on high heat and then 6 minutes on a medium-low heat. (Note: In order to develop the socarrat, or caramelized crust, on the bottom of the pan, you need the bottom of the pan to be dry by the time the rice is cooked.)
9. Once the rice is just cooked and the crust has begun to form, add the crab to the top of the paella. (Collect all the excess chili-garlic sauce and serve this in a separate bowl alongside the paella.)
10. Remove the pan from the stove, place the top shell of the crab back on for presentation, and let the paella rest for a couple of minutes.
11. Serve with garlic aioli and a few slices of lemon.
Secret Recipe: Mezcalito's Crab with Mezcal Butter
(Courtesy of Mezcalito)
Mezcal, butter, crab—these are a few of our favorite things, and Mezcalito on Polk Street combines the tasty trinity into one delicious dish.
The smoked garlic and the mezcal perfectly play against the sweet meat of the Dungeness crab, which is first parboiled and then finished in the oven with the beautiful butter medley. If the rain is keeping you inside this weekend, why not fill your house with this sweet perfume?
Mezcalito's Dungeness Crab with Mezcal Butter
2 oz. mezcal
½ pound baby potatoes
chives and chervil to garnish
Smoked Mezcal-Garlic Butter:
10 cloves of garlic
½ pound unsalted butter
½ tbsp. chili flake
kosher salt and pepper to taste
2 cups hickory wood chips
1. Place hickory wood chips in a cast iron skillet and light. Once smoking, place a cookie sheet over the skillet.
2. Place garlic on top of cookie sheet and allow smoke to cover garlic until golden brown (about 15 minutes).
3. Purée garlic in food processor or small coffee grinder.
4. Melt butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat—add the rest of the ingredients and cook until garlic is soft.
Dungeness Crab Prep:
1. Place crab in a large pot of boiling water and par-cook crab (seven-minute boil time). Remove and chill in a bowl full of ice water.
2. Once chilled, clean the crab by removing lungs and membrane. Cut in half (legs still attached to body) and rinse.
3. Boil baby potatoes until tender.
4. Put crab and potatoes in pan with one tablespoon of melted butter. Put smoked garlic butter on top of crab and roast for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.
5. Take pan out and carefully deglaze with mezcal (the pan will flame up).
6. Add lemon juice. Garnish with grilled lemon, chervil, and chives.
// Mezcalito is currently open for takeout and delivery; 2223 Polk St. (Russian Hill), mezcalitosf.com
Secret Recipe: Scoma's Roasted Dungeness Crab
(Courtesy of Scoma's)
When Scoma's opened in 1965 in Fisherman's Wharf, the owners (brothers Joe and Al Scoma) based their menu on some of their mother's favorite recipes. This one is a classic and a great basic guide to roasting Dungeness that you can riff off of with whatever spices you have in the cupboard. If you've never worked with crab before, ask your fishmonger to clean and crack it for you.
Scoma's Classic Roasted Dungeness Crab
1 whole Dungeness crab, cleaned and cracked
3 large garlic cloves, chopped and lightly browned
3 ounces (about 6 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt and ground pepper
1 teaspoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 lemon wedges
1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
2. Place cracked crab in a heavy skillet that fits inside the oven.
3. Combine garlic and olive oil and pour over crab. Add salt and pepper and toss well.
4. Roast in oven for 12-15 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and squeeze lemon over crab. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. Serve in a large bowl with a crab fork.
// Scoma's is currently closed for renovation; 1965 Al Scoma Way (Fisherman's Wharf), scomas.com