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dungeness vs. blue crab

i live in san francisco, and feel very blessed by our local dungeness crab. but i know that people from the east coast are equally passionate about their local blue crabs. i have had the pleasure of sitting over a giant basin full of blue crab and gorging myself sick, but i still prefer our local dungeness. so i'm wondering, for people who have spent a lot of time on both coasts, what do you prefer? and why?

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  1. I have eaten and greatly enjoyed dungeness crabs but as a Marylander I am always going to side with locally caught blue crabs. That out of the way I consider the two to be very different.

    I think of dungeness as served steamed and dipped in melted butter with lemon. It is great, sweet crab that I compare more with snow than blue crab.

    Blue on the other hand I have always enjoyed freshly steamed and nicely spiced without the need for butter or lemon. Occasionally I will mix a small bowl of apple cider vinegar with some Old Bay or JO Seasoning as a dip for the claw meat just for a change. Much is made about the "work" of picking a blue crab but the truth is that once you have settled on a method you are comfortable with you can fly through a dozen crabs in no time at all. Plus, the pacing allows for more beer consumption as you progress.

    Blues also make the best crabcakes in the world in addition to blessing us with the ultimate in crab indulgence - the softshell crab. Pan-fried, deep fried or even tempura style - there is nothing quite like eating a freshly prepared softshell or three.

    If I were to find myself in San Fran I would happily devour my share of dungeness and many pints of Anchor Steam and feel happy and satisfied. Were you to be out my way we would spread out the newspaper, crack many crabs and raise our long-necked Budweisers in toast to the great local crabs we both have been blessed with.


    7 Replies
    1. re: CDouglas

      As another native Marylander, the penultimate dining experience is that "crab feast", ideally with a pile of jumbo jimmies spread out on a newspapered table, Old Bay seasoned(JO is too salty), a bucket of cold ones, and a late season Orioles game on somewhere. Crab after delicious crab, talking with friends, and sipping at beer, you break every 20 minutes or so to go at that pile of claws you've been stacking. And our feasts would live on for a few days as we always kept the leftovers for crab soup... Virginia is for lovers. Maryland is for crab-lovers.

      1. re: Silverjay

        Agreed on the jumbo jimmies. JO #2 is used for steaming crabs as it has been premixed with flaked rock salt. JO #1 is the eating variety, more like Old Bay. Most folks who prefer it think it has LESS salt than Old Bay. It is the one you find most often at the waterfront crabhouses around the Bay.

        1. re: Silverjay

          I can only say one thing to this post. No truer words have ever been spoken!
          "the penultimate dining experience is that "crab feast", ideally with a pile of jumbo jimmies spread out on a newspapered table, Old Bay seasoned(JO is too salty), a bucket of cold ones, and a late season Orioles game on somewhere. Crab after delicious crab, talking with friends, and sipping at beer, you break every 20 minutes or so to go at that pile of claws you've been stacking"
          That description right there is the key to my heart! I agree, Maryland blues take the cake!

        2. re: CDouglas

          I thought eating blue crab with vinegar dip was something only my filipino family did. Is it common in Maryland?

          I prefer blue crab over dungeness. My family is from Jersey and Florida, I was the first to be born in CA, and lived here most of my life. I like the sweet meat from the blue crab.

          1. re: Veggietales

            I picked up the habit after crab-feasting at Bethesda crab house while growing up. They always had cider vinegar and extra Old Bay in little plastic cups available. I watched others do it and followed suit. I don't like how it masks the taste of jumbo lump but it adds a nice tang to the claw meat from time to time.

            1. re: CDouglas

              I was born and raised in Maryland and I always remember eating them with vinegar, ever since I was a little crabber!

        3. I prefer Maryland blue crabs for their delicate sweet flavor. Agree that butter isn't needed to enjoy!

          Many restaurants serving crab cakes use blue swimming crab meat from south east Asia. The meat is similar in flavor, but the size of the crab is enormous- about 1 1/2- 2 lbs each. I was in Indonesia a few years ago & had their chili crab. It was served whole with a spicy chili sauce. Very tasty, but extremely difficult to eat! Picking apart a 2 lb crab smothered in a wet chili sauce in a business dinner setting... thankfully, all at the dinner shared my laughter. Many of the Indonesians were surprised I knew how to pick the crab.

          I prefer locally grown/ caught food. So when on the West coast, I will order dungeness. When in MD, I order blue crabs, as long as I know if they are truly caught in the area. I do not buy MD "style" crab cakes outside of Maryland- they are never as good as the real thing. Backfin and fillers do not make a good crab cake.

          1. My main problem with Dungeness is that I'm too lazy to eat enough.

            I like blue crabs because of the soft-shell phase and the tradition of somebody else shelling them for crabcakes.

            14 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              too lazy? i'm a total pig when i eat crab. i chuck the utensils and crack them open with my teeth, pulling bits of shell out of my hair at the end of the night. next time i visit my parents in virginia, i'll have to do a study between dungeness and blue. i love the huge chunks of dungeness, and have found picking through the little legs of blues exasperating. maybe i just need to be shown how to do it properly. by the way, what is the season for blues on the east? our crabs come out next month, but i might be in virginia in december. i know nothing about them. is that a good time?

              1. re: augustiner

                In Maryland the commercial season ends December 15. Good crabs can be had until then.

                Check out this link for more info:

                1. re: CDouglas

                  I'm from the MS coast - are our blue crabs the same as yours?
                  Love them, eat them all the time, but we do love Dungeness when we can get it.

                  1. re: bayoucook

                    The Blue Crab is a native species from the Texas coast all through the Gulf and then along the Atlantic Coast as far North as New Jersey. Same crab.

                    Do not let another day pass with out reading the wonderful book "Beautiful Swimmers," by William Warner, a Pulitzer Prize winning story about the Blue Crab and the people whose lives revolve around the culture of catching them.
                    It's actually a page turner...

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      The species is Callinectes (beautiful swimmer) Sapidus (savory). Warner's book is truly a great read for all blue crab and Chesapeake Bay fans.

                      1. re: CDouglas

                        I knew Willie Warner and he truly loved the Chesapeake.
                        Everyone should read his book before they eat another crab. it will give you a new respect, not only for the crab, but for the men who haul them out of the water and the women who pick the meat from them.
                        Sexist? No. Just the way life is on the Bay in a declining life.
                        Food is more than what you put in your mouth. It's time and place, part of the culture. Respect for those who labor to bring it to your table and the seasons of life.

                      2. re: MakingSense

                        I'll have to grab a copy of that. Sounds like a good read.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          I will get the book, it sounds really good. I figured it was the same crab, just not sure. We seem to have a ton of them this year - good eating.

                    2. re: augustiner

                      That is how we eat shellfish. Throw newspapers on the table and go for it. I don't usually order shellfish when I dine out..for that very reason. Dungeness are sweeter than blue crab.

                    3. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I too am surprised you don't get enough from a big dungeness - it takes me a good half hour to pick a big dungeness clean and I am just always so amazed at the huge amount of meat it yields. I will admit to consuming about a half cup of melted butter with same, though. But when I finish I always feel - "Oooh, that was the perfect amount". I do love fried soft shell blue crabs though. But it seems that otherwise the miniscule amount of meat available from one hard shell blue crab is annoyingly skimpy. And I don't really like crab cakes, or maybe just never had a truly wonderful crab cake. When I think of how much labor-intensive nit picking has to go into extracting a viable amount of blue crab meat it creeps me out. When I was growing up on Long Island we caught huge crabs the size of big dungeness in Great South Bay as they cruised over the bottom (from our outboard), or from the docks. I would love it if someone could tell me what species they are, definitely not blue crabs.

                      1. re: niki rothman

                        If I weren't so lazy one Dungeness would be a lot.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          I guess I see picking a steamed dungeness as the quintessential relaxed, extended social meal. It just seems a perfect thing to do with a bunch of friends, so you chat and pick and eat and laugh. So the picking out of the morsels and the dipping in the butter seems all part of the lazy (talk about "lazy") pleasure of being with good friends you really enjoy and stuffing your mouth with the most delicious thing you've ever coaxed onto your fork. Too often I just wolf down my own food and the actual process is just mechanical. Gosh! I wish I could do that social crab picking party a lot more often than I do. I would prefer to eat a nice big dungeness and melted butter more than any other thing I could put in my mouth. But then, as I mentioned, I've never had a big steamed lobster - might be even better.

                        2. re: niki rothman

                          You may have been catching rock crabs. Usually only the claws of these guys are eaten. It could also be a Jonah crab but I think they tend to be in deeper water. Were they good eats?

                          1. re: CDouglas

                            I think you are right about the rock crabs - I seem to remember these guys were absolutely nothing to compare to my now beloved dungeness - that is, despite their huge size they were really not that meaty at all.

                      2. All I've ever eaten at home is Dungeness and I love it. We always have a Christmas tree decorating party and crab feed. And often do it over again on New Year's Eve. Can't wait. I've had plenty of crab cakes in restaurants, too, even though they're almost never as good as I hope they will be. What kind of crab is used on the West Coast?

                        1. I've had both and prefer blue over dungeness--the flavor and texture seems much more delicate to me--but... I also really like the European velvet swimming crab (which I've had before in Spain with a light vinegar broth--very nice).

                          1. I've had limited amount of both but will offer this opinion.
                            Crab is great, where ever you get it, it's better than a place that it ain't from.
                            That said, to me, I'd take blue crabs. The reason is this. I'd rather have a bucket of blues than one Dungeness. It's more the experience of the bucket and the mallet and the bib and all that goes with it.
                            As far as just the meat, I'm happy with either one. It's like cow. What's better, strip, tenderloin, t bone, sirloin......etc.


                            1. Blue Crabs, all the way!!!!!!!!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: hon

                                Agreed...and blue crabs from the Gulf Coast are available almost year-round, if you know where to find them.

                              2. i'll take either as long as they're fresh, alive & kicking. Ain't nothing worse than serving a crab that's been dead for more than an hr.

                                Either one I like served straight up although dungeness can be quite good in garlic.

                                1. Blue crabs are almost always eaten without any kind of dip and I have never seen anyone use butter. I've never been offered butter at any rate. Always steamed, usually with Old Bay or similar.

                                  Dungeness crabs are easier, more elegant. Blue crabs are messier. I think it would be more difficult for a West Coast Dungeness eater to go to Baltimore and become an East Coast Blue Crab eater than the other way around.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Steve

                                    In south Louisiana, which surely has as large a claim on crab culture as the Cheasapeake, people often serve cocktail sauce (ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, tabasco sauce) or "seafood sauce" (same as cocktail sauce, only with enough mayo added to turn it a pale pinky color) when eating boiled crabs. And we generally don't steam crabs here...put a healthy dose of Zatarain's Crab Boil into a pot of cold water, along with cut up lemons, onions, heads of garlic, then add the crabs, bring to a boil and cook for barely 20 minutes.

                                    1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                      I'm becoming a naturalized California chauvinist so I'll brag OUR dungeness crabs are so beautifully, delicately, sweetly delicious (with about a half pound of meat on each one) that the mere threat of defiling them with ketchup, spices, mayo, or hot sauce makes me want to cry! If crab meat needs anything more than a dip in melted butter, there is something wrong with it.
                                      But, that said, dare I add that in the good old antebellum Louisiana no doubt that kind of loose talk would have gotten me called out for pistols at dawn!

                                      1. re: niki rothman

                                        None of that CA purist minimalism here...this is a "more is more" food culture. If you can only put plain ol' butter on your crab, then how can you arrive at things like crab au gratin? Or crab-stuffed eggplants? Crabmeat sardou? Or a sauteed filet of trout topped with crabmeat Yvonne (artichokes & mushrooms)? I'd take Galatoire's crabmeat maison (mayo, lemon, capers, green onions) ANY DAY over plain ol' butter.

                                        1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                          The theory and practice in Maryland is that if you are going to the expense, time, and effort of freshly steaming crabs, then you don't want to dilute that with anything, really. Not even butter.

                                          Of course, once the crabmeat has been cooked and sits around for a day or three, then the flavor is not going to be at peak - that's what you use for recipes.

                                          1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                            Hungry Celeste - your handle is one of my favorites. I may love SF, but I'm no elitist as any real elitist on the SF board would be glad to tell you. It's just that the sweet crabmeat seems so very perfect, so delicate and innocent, I just do not want to muddy the waters with bells and whistles. But I'm relatively new to crab and although it's common here, I just got into live dungeness last year. Before that I was too much of a sissy and it wasn't something I really even thought about for some reason. BUT a friend of mine introduced me to it by doing all the killing and cleaning for me. Also, I started ordering crab with scallions, garlic, fresh ginger in a brown sauce at Chinese restaurants - and that is also absolutely, incandescently delicious. But, I have to say, there IS something elementally orgasmic about just picking out all that abundant sweet tender crabmeat, dipping it in butter and simply luxuriating in it to my hearts content.

                                            So, Hungry Celeste, although I am very interested in any reasonable ideas you might have for enhancing my enjoyment of crab, if you come anywhere near my beautiful, big, sweet, unsuspecting dungeness with artichokes, mushrooms, or Mardi Gras beads - I will have to put a stop to you.

                                            1. re: niki rothman

                                              +1 on the garlic ginger crab. I don't care which crab, or for that matter, crustacean, or even tofu - garlic ginger fill-in-the-blank with green onions is amazing.

                                    2. Old time crab houses on the Eastern Shore and in Southern Maryland used to serve cups of cider or malt vinegar and dishes of Old Bay for dipping with steamed crabs. Haven't seen this in years at most restaurants - since these old time places have pretty well died out.
                                      (Guess this is sort of like eating french fries with vinegar.)
                                      You still see this at family parties, waterman feasts, fundraisers among locals. The folks who wouldn't be caught dead using mallets on crabs. They eat them with knives like the professional pickers do.
                                      Some restaurants do serve butter on the Eastern Shore.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                        I lived in St. Marys County, Southern Maryland for about ten years and never saw a mallet being used by anyone other than a tourist. Vinegar + Old Bay was de rigueur as were the crab knives. At home, I served butter along with the required Old Bay + vinegar but, personally, found the Old Bay to overpower the delicate crab flavor. To this day, I only use a smidge when making crab cakes and none whatsoever when making soft shell crabs.

                                        As a native Californian, I grew up eating Dungeness crab and loved it. The discussion of which is "better" is like asking which is better raspberries or strawberries. Blue crab is different from Dungeness crab, just like stone crabs are different from either of these two.

                                        I'd like to think that it is not a case of either-or, but that we're lucky to be able to enjoy all of them! We could have this same discussion about oysters or many other foods. Happily, we have the opportunity to eat all the permutations without making a decision of one over the other.

                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                          uh, I live in B-More and several places still ask if you want vinegar!

                                        2. I just ate blue crab for the first time this past weekend after a lifetime of dungeness! My market had live blue crabs, and since having read this post, we decided to go for a bunch. Although I really enjoyed the flavor, I think I've been spoiled by the ease of dungeness. Blue crabs are SO much work! How do the blue crabbers out there get the meat out in a reasonable amount of time so as to satisfy ones appetite? At one point, I just sort of gave up. My SO had more fortitude and happily dealt with the rest of the crabs, but he was at the table for at least another hour after I had abandoned him.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: grubn

                                            Practice makes perfect. I've seen professional pickers remove all of the meat from a crab (top shell cracked off, body broken in half & innards removed) in well under a minute. Those folks are paid by their production, so it's in their best interest to get it done quickly.

                                          2. Professional crab pickers use knives on blue crabs and most of the old-time Chesapeake Bay locals do. The mallet is a sign of an amateur. You can use the knife to crack perfect cocktail claws.
                                            Once you get the hang of it, you can get a pound of crabmeat from fewer than a dozen decent sized crabs.
                                            It's a skill worth learning. Not hard, you don't get a mouth full of shell, cheaper, and - best of all - you don't deplete the stock of crabs in the Bay by wasting them.

                                            1. Part of the fun is getting all of the old bay you cooked the blue crabs in on your fingers so that each bite has that excellent flavor. It's not something to do when you're in a hurry. Take a few hours, drink a bunch of cold beer and sit around socializing with other crab lovers.

                                              If you have some newbies with you at a crab fest, be sure to pick through their discard pile when they're done, it's amazing how much crab meat (even backfin) you can find.

                                              1. Don't forget North Carolina - We have an abundance of blue crab here - love them. And a nicely cooked soft shell crab here is absolutely one of my favorite foods.

                                                1. Grew up in SF Bay Area and cooked on the East Coast for three years...how can anything that you have to boil in that nasty Old Bay seasoning before you eat it be any good? Dungeness is King...and for whomever it was that wrote that Dungeness is like King Crab, get a life!!

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: jungleboy

                                                    I think you're confused. In Maryland, Blue Crabs are steamed, never boiled.

                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                      But the expression IS "crab boil", no?

                                                      1. re: niki rothman

                                                        In Maryland it is almost always a "crab feast". There are a few who boil their crabs but they are the exception - I have never seen it, only heard about it.

                                                        Crab/shrimp boil is mostly associated with New Orleans in particular and Louisiana in general.

                                                    2. re: jungleboy

                                                      If you were boiling crabs you must have been cooking on the East Coast of the bayou.

                                                      I wrote that Dungeness meat is more like snow crab than blue and consider that an apt opinion. You were the only one to mention King.

                                                    3. Size does matter in this case. Blue crabs are 1/3 the size of a dungeness and as mentioned a hassle to eat. Maybe it's a stupidity of bounty or sheer laziness but even small dungeness crabs are hardly worth the effort in my opinion.

                                                      Also the whole seasoing thing of blue crabs always makes me wonder why, as in why do you have to season them so much? Because you can, because you have to or just tradition? Dungeness can pretty much stand on their own. OTOH, Maryland crabcakes are excellent.

                                                      13 Replies
                                                      1. re: ML8000

                                                        Old Bay is commonplace, and like most food habits, I guess it stems from tradition. It just tastes like Maryland! Though all the places will steam them plain as well.

                                                        1. re: ML8000

                                                          You do use a lot of old bay when steaming but due to the nature of the crab carapace the meat doesnt get overl;y spiced. The meat should have an aroma of the spice. I would say most of the direct spice comes from your fingers.

                                                          I grew up in NYC and went to school in DC and now live on the west coast. I have to say that it really is a tough comparison, I very much like the raspberry/strawberry analogy. Both are good in their own right and have their place. If i were forced to chooose i would go with blue crab for a couple of reasons. First the Cheasepeake crab boil is one of the more enjoyable ways to spend an afternoon on the planet. Get a big group of friends, a huge bushel of crabs, a refreshing lager and you are good to go. I like to eat mine with some cider vinegar and butter for the claws. The fact that you slowly eat the crabs prolongs the enjoyment, especially if you are with good company. It is also fun when you are able to pull out the back fin in one big chunk by carefully twisting. this is an art.
                                                          My second major reason for preferring blues is the soft shelled stage. I could wax poetic for hours on end on the glories of the soft shelled blue crab. Whether fried, grilled or sauteed, nothing beats the sweetness and combination of textures of a properly done up crab. And oh those crunchy legs. As an agnostic the soft shell almost makes me believe there is a god.

                                                          1. re: MVNYC

                                                            Remember, they are steamed, not boiled. We usually call them Crab Feasts, not Crab Boils.... But you make a good point about Old Bay and how it affects things. Growing up with Old Bay, I've become accustomed to using on fish and shrimp directly, and in crab cakes and crab soup- besides steamed crabs. Actually, I occasionally sprinkle it on pizza as well.

                                                            1. re: Silverjay

                                                              yeah i know they are steamed not boiled. Its just one of those terms that I have always heard it called.

                                                              1. re: MVNYC

                                                                Not in Maryland, it is NEVER called a Crab Boil.

                                                            2. re: MVNYC

                                                              Please enlighten me--I'm a soft-shelled crab virgin. If you have to clean all the guts out of a regular blue crab, why don't you have to clean out a soft-shelled crab? Is there some immaculate removal of its innards when it lacks a shell? The thought of eating an entire crab, innards and all, is a puzzlement. I"ve seen these crabs prepared on tv food shows, but never an explanation for eating them uncleaned. I would really appreciate an education! Thanks!

                                                              1. re: mothrpoet

                                                                Pictures are worth 1000 words: http://www.blue-crab.org/cleaning_sof...

                                                                In short - cut off the, um, face, lift the sides and remove the gills and then cut off the apron.

                                                                1. re: CDouglas

                                                                  Thanks so much! NOw I can sleep at night!

                                                                  1. re: mothrpoet

                                                                    It must have been that "cut off the face" bit, huh? The scissors do all of the work.

                                                                    Ever scaled and cleaned a fish or plucked and dressed a chicken? This is not only easier but much less disturbing. No smells get overly involved either.

                                                                    1. re: CDouglas

                                                                      To get real gritty about this...The best soft shell crabs ever
                                                                      are the ones you dip off of the pier pilings that are
                                                                      "doublers",run the soft crab up to the house and along the
                                                                      way grab a sun warm ripe tomato from the garden,get the pan
                                                                      hot and the butter melted, and the crab cleaned in about
                                                                      five minutes and by the time you dredge the crab in a little
                                                                      flour and plop um in the pan , the legs are still jumping.
                                                                      Couple of minutes on each side, then onto some plain old white bread
                                                                      a slice of tomato or two, a bit iceberg lettuce and some mayo.
                                                                      Bliss I tell you pure bliss....

                                                                      1. re: Hue

                                                                        Don't forget to start water boiling before you run down to the pier and then snag an ear of sweet corn along with the tomato on your way back in. Grab an ice cold beer or some sweet tea and you are truly living.

                                                                        Dang, is it summer yet?

                                                              2. re: MVNYC

                                                                "I grew up in NYC and went to school in DC and now live on the west coast."

                                                                I know you are probably long gone, but me too!

                                                              3. re: ML8000

                                                                Give me the Blues for crabcakes and softshells. Otherwise, Dungeness.

                                                              4. Hallelujah...a voice of reason in the wilderness

                                                                1. So where does Stone Crab fit into this equation? I had some ten years ago on a couple of trips to Tampa and recall that the meat was flaky and mild. I still prefer Dungeness, but the Stone Crab legs were a nice variation on the theme.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                                                    Actually with stone crabs you don't eat any legs, only one claw. That claw is removed from the crab and it's tossed back where it will grow another. This is the ultimate in replenishable cuisine and seafood. That claw is wonderful, normally dipped in a mustard sauce. Joes' Stone Crab in Miami Beach serves tens of thousands of pounds.

                                                                    As far as the thread, I love blue crabs as softshells and dungeness for all else. The Chinese prep methods can be outstanding.

                                                                  2. I grew up eating dungeness, so I'm partial to it, but I am lazy lazy lazy about eating BOTH kinds, mallet, nutcracker, or whatever method. But given a choice of a pile of either, that someone else has picked out of the shell for me, I vote for dungeness. I eat it without butter, and think the meat is sweet and tremendous.

                                                                    I agree though that for crab cakes you can't beat blue crab. And yeah, the soft shell type of BC is great, but for the pure meat, I'll stick with Dungeness.

                                                                    Recently, I had hairy crab. mmmmmmm.

                                                                    1. The argument about dungeness being a hassle is true to an extent. It can be semi-solved pretty easily, at least for the eaters by doing a lot of the pre-cracking before you put it out. My family use to do this at big feeds.

                                                                      After cooking and before putting them out you take our your tools and start cracking away. Two people with a decent clever, a tenderizing mallet and a a pair of channel-lock plumber's pliers can prep 10+ crabs pretty quickly. Honestly it's not that much different from craving a turkey and in fact much easier because it's just destruction and you don't have to worry about making it pretty.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: ML8000

                                                                        Oh bother... not another crab smasher ;-) Some things in this world can be chalked up to just personal preference, but at the risk of sounding snobby, this one I have to say is more important than just personal opinion. Mallets are good for flattening meat, not smashing crab shell into dust... and forcing those shards into the middle of the meat. Find yourself some good nut or seafood "crackers" and enjoy it delicately.

                                                                        1. re: HaagenDazs

                                                                          Actually more of a crab "denter". :) You just want to create "starter cracks" on the shell (not pulverize it) so that the end eater has an easier time. A few, quick, well placed blows with a mallet does this. Makes eating a little faster but the person still needs to do some work. As I mentioned, channel lock pliers and nutcrackers work too but we're talking "pre-crack" and 10 crabs at once. Fully cracked crab is another deal and should be handled delicately.

                                                                        2. re: ML8000

                                                                          hmm, i am a wimp but i can rip apart a dungeness crab with my bare hands except for the claw which i tap with a stone to just crack the shell and do the rest w/ my hands. i like using hands because it keeps the meat in big meaty chunks. i do use a knife to cut the body in half bvecause then it's really easy to get the meat from the body by ripping apart the sections that contain meat and just poking them out. takes me about 20 min to eat a crab but if i were in a hurry i bet i could rip apart that crab in 10. butter masks the taste of a good crab.

                                                                        3. Grew up in Maryland -not on the Bay, alas - had blue crab now and then. Stationed in Norfolk, we often went to the nearby beaches and creeks and caught our own. Delicious, but you have to have other food on hand so you don't starve to death while you work your way through a batch of them.

                                                                          Moved to Seattle, found Dungeness: OMIGOD what a crab! We lived on Puget Sound and in winter at low tide we went out into the "front yard" and netted them for a late-night neighborhood feast. (Winter low tides in the Sound are at night.)

                                                                          My son in Houston bought live Dungeness at the local Asian markets, steamed them until just partially cooked, then let them cool enough to dismantle. Then he cracked them thoroughly and rubbed a garlic and butter slurry onto the meat through the well-cracked shells. Then he finishes them on the barbie, with maybe a little mesquite smoke. Served with melted butter. Even better than the MD crab cakes which I have had at noted places on the Esatern Shore. (Not to sneer at them.)

                                                                          Visiting our daughter in Walnut Creek, we could find live DC at Asian markets in Oakland, sometimes as low as $3.25 per pound. It was DC on the barbie time.

                                                                          Living near Chicago, best I've seen is $10/lb for whole, cooked ones.



                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: MikeLM

                                                                            We can get them live in Atlanta for about $4.99/lb on a good day. On a bad day, $5.99/lb.

                                                                          2. I can't stand Old Bay Seasoning, probably due to the celery salt component (I think). I know many like it, but I think it just overwhelms the taste of the crab.

                                                                            Generally had them stir fried (chinese style), with a delicate sauce.

                                                                            The biggest difference between the two to me is the meat texture. Dungeness seems much meatier, with coarser fresh. Blue crab has a finer texture. Both are plenty sweet enough not to really need to quibble about which one is sweeter.

                                                                            Even though I picked through my share of blue crab meat (I had to do that for a dozen crab at a shot for our family meals in my youth), I still find it much easier to deal with a dungeness crab. If I don't have to do the work myself, I would prefer the texture of the blue crab. But being lazy, I would order a Dungeness over Blue generally.

                                                                            1. I prefer dungeness overall, it certainly doesn't need butter. And yes, I am on the west coast.

                                                                              I dearly love soft shell crab though...and if I am going to eat blue I like 'em squishy. I've had lots of good blue crab but I don't think is superior.

                                                                              1. Love the crab you're with of course, but Blue crab for tender sweetness.
                                                                                I was at a party where there were many many Indian dishes, including a bowl of tamarind chili stone crabs. Hardly anyone was touching them! Too messy! Too much work? More for me . . .

                                                                                conclusion: if you grow up with the blue crab ideal - thank you Outer Banks of North Carolina - you are at an advantage where any crab in the shell is served...

                                                                                1. Blue crab definitely! It's not really close.
                                                                                  Please help. I'm a transplanted Baltimore native who is planning her father's 94th birthday in the Baltimore area. His one driving desire: the very best hard shell crab (steamed and a good weight and spicy). Help! I know Ocean Pride in his Timonium neighborhood. What would be better--a drive anywhere in MD is no problem. Many thanks!

                                                                                  Permalink | Edit | Thanks for posting!

                                                                                  1. I was born and raised in Baltimore and have lived on the West Coast for over 20 years. As far as comparing just the crab meat itself and NOT the cooking styles, I'd have to say I can't taste any difference between blue or dungenous crab meat. With that said, there's nothing like sitting at a table covered in paper with a dozen JUMBOs steamed just right, peppered with Old Bay seasoning. I stress JUMBOs because anything less than that, it becomes a lot of work for a little bit of meat.

                                                                                    As far as dungenous goes, I think they're a lot easier to pick, so I'd have to say they are the "Lazy Man's" crab. I've made crab cakes out of the meat and they taste just as good as anything blue. The next thing I'd like to try is steaming them with Old Bay and doing the same taste test.

                                                                                    Blues are great, but since I'm familiar with both, I'd have to side with dungenous because of the amount of meat and the ease of extracting it.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: EasyTiger56

                                                                                      Just to clarify that most places in Maryland use a mix similar to Old Bay, but not Old Bay. As another poster commented, Old Bay has too much salt.

                                                                                    2. They are very different foods really. The thin shells and juicy, tangier meat of the blue crab make the crab feed a more enjoyable affair. The dungeness crabmeat is denser and dryer, like lobster. I wouldn't say one is better than the other but when I think of crabs I think blue crabs. Dungeness crabs are very different and ultimately have less inherent taste,ut or like halibut or lobster.

                                                                                      1. I live in VA and I always liked blue crab but never really enjoyed the crab to much more enjoyed the get together of friends and family. But I love most all seafood and about 9 years ago my friend brought 2 whole dungeness over and I was in heaven never to return to blue crab again. I never liked my crab with vinegar only light butter and Old Bay. And I can't believe people have said they are too lazy for dungeness if anything I am too lazy to bother with blue crab I rather not have any! Lol funny how different people are and how everyone has a special way they like to eat their crab but we all savor it!

                                                                                        1. Oh augustiner, picking between the two is like picking a favorite child! I will have to say I love my dungeness. LOVE IT. When it is at its peak, it is just so flavorfull. And a lot less work than the blue crabs to eat. I love how moist and sweet the middle meat is. And the crab butter is to die for. Personally, I love it just slopped over some fresh steamed rice.

                                                                                          coconutgoddess - explorationfood.com

                                                                                          1. My brother and I were discussing this recently--we grew up on southern Maryland and both now live in northern California. Dungeness are vastly easier to pick, which I guess explains why they get eaten; they have less flavor and a coarser texture than the blue crab. Neither of us eats crab until we go back to Maryland.

                                                                                            1. i was born in MD but moved to WA when i was 6. one of my fondest memories as a kid was the family getting together on 4th of july and spreading out the newspapers on the backporch and eating blue crab into the night... having enjoyed both crab i have to say that i enjoy dungees more... with the blue crab its covered with seasonings of some sort so you kinda miss out on the flavor of the crab. dont get me wrong i still enjoy blue crab and crave it when im in baltimore, but with dungess just boil crack open and eat. no butter nothing just crab meat for you to enjoy. gun to head and say choose one, ill have to pick dungees

                                                                                              1. growing up in MD and also living half my life in WA and OR, I am confident in my convictions about cooking and eating steamed crabs. First said, there is a difference in taste between Dungeness and Blue Crab. I agree with other folks who say that the Dungeness is "similar" in taste to Snow Crab. I believe the Blue Crab has better flavor. Don't freak out, Dungeness is a great crab! Now here is where I will freak you out.... I will STEAM (never boil like all the natives) Dungeness, EXACTLY like I would Blues! with a little vinegar and water, lots of salt and peper and Old Bay. Why would anyone eat crab meat dipped in butter? If thats your only known experience, then just go to Red Lobster and order the frozen Snow Crab clusters. Sorry for offending anyone's feelings..... : )

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: kayaknell

                                                                                                  >>I believe the Blue Crab has better flavor.<<

                                                                                                  I think "better" is subjective in this case. Some prefer delicate and sweet, others want more concentrated and tasting of the bay.

                                                                                                  Adding a lot of salt, pepper and Old Bay to a Dungeness I think shows your subjective preference as well. I personally would feel that imposing such heavy seasoning to a Dungeness would be criminal to those who prefer it over a blue. Just my .02...

                                                                                                  1. re: kayaknell

                                                                                                    I steam my dungeness, but I'm not sure where I am a native of. Grew up in NYC, 8 years in DC when we ate blues from a paper bag, and the last 20 near SF. No vinegar though, and usually no Old Bay, unless I'm making crab cakes.

                                                                                                    Wow! I said the same thing in 2009.

                                                                                                  2. I am a Brooklyn/Long Island boy and my lovely wife is a San Francisco gal. I had never even tasted Dungeness crabs before we met. They are excellent BUT can't hold a candle to the taste and experience of crackin' a dozen sweet O' Bay steamed Jimmies and Janes out on the patio!!
                                                                                                    Lovely wife prefers Dungeness, go figure????

                                                                                                    1. Love them both. Butter with Dungeness & Old Bay with Blue. If I had to choose though, Blues with Old Bay & a cooler of cold ones takes it.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                        Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!! Gotta see if the local baymen have any for the 4th!!

                                                                                                        1. re: Motosport

                                                                                                          My only problem is I spend all day cracking/cleaning them & my wife spends all day eating them. In my case, better off making it a making it a guy thing.