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Nov 30, 2005 04:14 PM

Dungeness! How long to boil?

  • s

Just picked up some dungeness crab -- but am flummoxed about how long to cook them in the boiling water (seasoned? w/what?) ... Thanks for your help.

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  1. Personally, I would steam it -- here are a couple of articles about preparing dungeness from the SF Chronicle:

    1. To make me sound truly stupid: legs up or down?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Sarah

        Up -- that way he can't wiggle around (if live, that is). Also, I think having the hard shell facing the water keeps more steam from getting into the crab, condensing and making it watery.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Are you sure it's legs up? We steamed a good deal of live crab last season, and husband insists that steaming them upright w/ their legs down is better. Says that they are less waterlogged that way. I must admit that steaming is husband's job since I'm a bit squeamish about live critters and get guilt pangs when I hear them tap-tapping on the lid. :-/

          BTW, another tip is to put them in the freezer for 15 min. before steaming to "knock them out" a bit. I'm not sure if this is more "humane" but it makes them less feisty.

          In the photo below, we stacked them after steaming, but they were actually steamed in separate compartments.


        2. re: Sarah

          I usually do them legs up/carapace down. Did our first of the season last night and I think it was one of the best ever (I think I say this about the first one every year...) My observation is that if the legs are up and carapace down, the crab fat all seems to stay put in the shell rather than running out in the water. Anyway, this was a nice fat crab and was as sweet and nutty as could be. Yum Yum :-)

          1. re: RWCFoodie

            Thanks for confirming Ruth's assertion on legs up. While I have a good amount of crab butter reserved for later use, some of the "crab schmoo" (quoting Gordon Wing) did drip to the bottom.

            This calls for an experiment since husband insists that legs down is the way to go. Next time we'll do one upright, one upside down and see if there's much difference in amount of steam, waterlogging, drippage, etc. My prediction is that it won't make for a significant difference, but who knows...

            We had our first crab of the season last night too...was heavenly...

        3. I agree, steam them instead of boiling them. Keep the flavor in the crab instead of flavoring the water. Steam them for about 18 minutes. FYI - you don't want the stock pot to boil dry! It can smell really bad!!! Enjoy you crab!

          1. Some recommend steaming Dungeness (like you cook Blue crab), but I find steaming does not infuse much flavor into the crab. My method is to use the following for a gallon of liquid:
            1/2 cup salt, 1/4 cup Montreal Steak Seasoning or pickling spice (or crab or shrimp boil), 1 cup vinegar, 1 head garlic crushed. Cook liquid with seasonings for 1/2 hour, add crab, bring to rolling boil, turn off heat, leave crab for 1/2 hour in cooling liquid. You might want to test by trying a small leg. A lot depends on size of crab, and you must experiment. Once you get the method down, you can cook several crabs by reheating the water and cooking each separately. For real treat, use stale beer instead of water.