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Local Crabs are Coming

Just heard the news that the local crabbers are going out.

Where's your favorite place to buy fresh, local crab to cook at home? And what are your favorite restaurants for local crab?

I like the fish counter at the Ferry Building for a half steamed crab and a hunk of bread. Where else?

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  1. My family will be at Pillar Point Sunday afternoon, ready and eager to finally get it on! Bring an ice chest, CASH, rubber bands for the claws, etc. And at home, have everything set up for the big boil -- lemons, garlic bread, beer, wine, etc.

    I hope it's not $3++ per pound off the boats.

    And remember folks: the rule of thumb for whole uncleaned crab weight to usable cooked crab meat is 1:4 ... If you want 2 lbs. of crab, you need to buy four two-pound crabs.

    The fact that it's been delayed only makes the feast sweeter ....

    Sushi Monster

    2 Replies
    1. re: Sushi Monster

      Do you buy the crab directly from the fishermen? Or is there a booth like at Hog Island?

      1. re: Sushi Monster

        Don't bother rushing to Pillar Pt so fast. Weather may deter the boats for a few days:


      2. We're so happy.

        Our first crab of the season will be a dinner tonight with some local fishermen at a Slow Food crab "festival". Nate Keller & his team (google) will be making dinner. Its a fundraiser to send locals to Terra Madre.

        We had been worried the event would be cancelled, postponed or worse have subpar crab, but it looks like its going to work out. I'm so excited!

        Then next weekend, we're going to do our own basic crab feed at home.

        1 Reply
        1. re: larochelle

          Can't wait to get my hands on some fresh crab

        2. I've never bought crab directly off of a boat or on a dock, but I somehow feel the urge to do so this year. Can anyone provide any links/directions on where and when to get fresh crab either in the Santa Cruz area or up north a bit like San Mateo/Half Moon Bay?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bunson

            This thread has links to maps, phone numbers to call for availability, and other tips for buying directly from the boats in Half Moon Bay.

          2. I buy my crab (& all my fish, generally) at Tokyo Fish Market in Berkeley. As with all his fish, Cubby has only the best crab, at fair market price. You can get it either live or cooked.

            1. The SF Chronicle is reporting, within the last hour, that the crab fleets in SF and HMB are set to go for 6 am Saturday.

              Here's the link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

              Still, I'd advise calling the Pillar Point harbormaster's recorded fish sales line at 650-726-8724. If they drop pots Saturday mid-day, who knows what'll show up -- and when -- on the dock this weekend.

              Sushi Monster

              14 Replies
              1. re: Sushi Monster

                let''s hope that the predicted storm holds off. fishing boats can't balance the extra weight of the crab traps in heavy seas. I hope the fleet comes in with a great catch at Pillar Point. I'll be waiting, too.

                1. re: Cynsa

                  Would be great to have an impromptu tailgate party on Sunday afternoon in the parking lot at Pillar Point. Question: What is the secret 'Hound handshake or gang sign?

                  Sushi Monster

                  1. re: Cynsa

                    Visited Pillar Point late yesterday (Sunday) afternoon. You could see many stacks of the crab pots still in the parking lot and on many of the boats in dock. No local crabs available from boats at that time late yesterday afternoon.

                    Instead, picked up a few live Washington state crabs at Marina market in San Mateo, $3.99/lbs. They were quite nice fried up in Singaporean chili crab sauce.

                    Marina Food
                    2992 S Norfolk St, San Mateo, CA 94403

                    1. re: Benny Choi

                      I also picked up Washington state crabs, but at Ranch 99 where they were $3.69/lb. We simply steamed them last night, then pan fried the leftovers in garlic butter tonight. The bigger of the two was at least 2.5 lbs.

                      99 Ranch Market
                      35201 Newark Blvd, Newark, CA

                      1. re: DezzerSF

                        They were $3.69 in SF Chinatown today as well; smallish, but this was late in the day and they may have been picked over. I have no idea whether they were from Washington or local.

                      2. re: Benny Choi

                        Guess I win the crab shopping derby. Was on Irving Street this afternoon picking up stuff at TC Pastry with my parents before taking them home to Salinas. My mom and I went across the street to 23rd Irving Supermarket and found live crabs there for $2.99/lb. Our two weighed 4.2 pounds total, and one was a bit larger than the other. Couldn't find out their origin, either the counter guys didn't know or they didn't want to tell me.

                        23rd Irving Supermarket
                        2201 Irving St, San Francisco, CA

                    2. re: Sushi Monster

                      I just called Woodhouse Fish to ask, and they said with the weather forecast, they're hoping for Tuesday.

                        1. re: dmacniven

                          Excellent. Thanks for the update!

                          Woodhouse Fish Company
                          2073 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                          1. re: chemchef

                            I gather it's eat in, I gather from The Tablehopper (scroll down):


                            1. re: Xiao Yang

                              An update on local crabbing, since the few boats that came in on Sunday and Monday, there has been nothing since due to bad weather. The current prediction is that we should start seeing more tomorrow and through the weekend. We are running pretty low at the Woodhouse today but should be able to refill by tomorrow night.

                              1. re: dmacniven

                                Thanks for the update, since I posted this morning asking about crabs for the weekend (I will be in for lunch on Saturday), but it apparently never got posted. I have never been to Woodhouse.... is it strictly eat-in or do you have a fish market as well?

                                1. re: dmacniven

                                  I had the $13 whole crab at Woodhouse on Saturday.... Awesome! Went with a friend who had the stuffed artichoke, and it looked delicious as well. We shared the Iceburg wedge salad and an order of fries and were just stuffed to the gills when we left. It was both of our first time there, and we will definitely be back... Excellent service, fresh fish, good prices!

                          2. For those who are at least as interested in buying local and most fresh and find San Rafael not too distant to travel, this mornings Marin newspaper featured the key local crabbers' outlet, Western Boat. They sold 600 pounds of just hauled in, caught by local crabbers, dungeness at $5.49 per pound live. A bit more for cleaned and cooked, of course, but why not do it yourself??

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: alfairfax

                              Somehow my link did not register. Try again:
                              Western Boat & Tackle
                              101 3rd St
                              San Rafael, CA
                              think I got it right that time

                              Western Boat & Tackle
                              101 3rd St, San Rafael, CA

                              1. re: alfairfax

                                I see in today's Safeway ad crabs at $3.99 a pound. Good price, but Safeway's supplier hasn't discovered salt or seasoning yet. However, when Safeway drops the fresh crab price, others will follow. Andronico's wants $5.99 lb...big differential. Has anyone checked out Ranch 99?

                                1. re: OldTimer

                                  Does safeway ever sell them live? The marina safeway only has them cooked as far as I know.

                                  1. re: mofo313

                                    I have seen only a few stores with the tanks needed for keeping live crabs. Generally speaking, live crabs are rare except at Chinese markets. Western Boat and Loch Loman bait are exceptions. By the way, I was at Costco today and they have a supply of small, cooked crabs at $2.99 lb. Costco has a crab supplier who knows how to season crab. I have a feeling that prices will drop all over after the stormy weather.

                                    1. re: OldTimer

                                      OldTimer: I don't know which Costco store you saw the cooked crab at $2.99/lb but I was in the Redwood City store yesterday and the crab they had was all labeled "previously frozen" - No Sale!!! (At least not to me...)

                                      1. re: RWCFoodie

                                        Because of the storm, the crabs may have been delivered today. I was in Novato store. By the way, last year I had a brain fart and inadvertanly picked up a "previously frozen" crab. I was so embarassed. It tasted pretty good, and I realize it may have been the length time frozen, etc. I didn't just see the crab...I ate it. Got two more for tomorrow.

                                        1. re: OldTimer

                                          Glad it was good; I just thought that there's no way to know how long it's been sitting around in a freezer... :-) and I didn't want to take the chance. Decided to just be patient and buy live....

                                    1. re: wolfe

                                      Marina Food
                                      2992 S Norfolk Street
                                      San Mateo, CA, 94403
                                      (650) 345-6911

                                      1. re: gtrine

                                        At Alioto's stand on the wharf they're $7.95/lb, down from about $12/lb last week.

                                    2. re: OldTimer

                                      Nob Hill's circular says they'll have fresh from the Northwest dungeness for $2.87/lb on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. Presumably cooked and not live.

                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        Not live. Not sure if cooked or not. I saw them in the fish section today. They looked very nice. BTW, the grapefruit at Raley/Nob Hill that is 3 for $1 this week is good.

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          One would hope they are cooked if not live....

                                  2. Does anyone else go to Lucky Seafood in Oakland on E. 12th St & 12th Ave? Have they gotten their crab in yet?

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: nicedragonboy

                                      Any suggestions on best place to pick up crab near Marina (SF)?

                                      1. re: nicedragonboy

                                        I drive by there a lot but haven't checked recently. I'll check it out next time we go for dim sum next door at King of King.

                                        1. re: nicedragonboy

                                          I stopped by Lucky Seafood myself on Saturday and picked up two for dinner. $3.69/lb. They were good. about 2lbs a piece.

                                          1. re: nicedragonboy

                                            Pacific Super on Alemany in SF had live crabs for $2.99/lb today.

                                        2. I might just put on the rain gear and walk up Irving Street to see whats available. Sunset Super usually has a ton of live fish and sometimes crabs. If not I'll stop by 23rd and Irving. If I can score some live crab how would I cook it? I've cracked and cleaned a lot of crabs but never did a live one. Do I boil or steam? Spices or no?

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: sunsetgirl

                                            Clean the live crab with a strong brush under running water. In a large pot, bring some water to boil - no need for the water to be enough to submerse the crab, steaming is fine. You can put salt, fresh garlic, fresh ginger in the water if you want. Throw the whole live crab in the pot and cover. Steam for 12 to 15 minutes depending on the size and how intense you boil the water. Take it out to cool down. Serve, crack, and enjoy.

                                            1. re: sunsetgirl

                                              New May Wah on Clement St had a bunch of live crabs for $3.69 a pound.

                                              1. re: baron45

                                                I was at 99 Ranch Market last night in San Mateo and I saw live Dungenness crabs for $3.49/lbs. I did not buy as I was there to buy fish instead. I did not ask where the crabs were from.

                                              2. re: sunsetgirl

                                                Steaming is supposed to be better, though I've had perfectly good boiled crab as well. The secret is plenty of salt on the outside of the crab, because you've got to get it inside the shell and into the meat.

                                                As someone from the Washington, D.C. area, can I put in a plug for "Old Bay" seasoning? A great seafood friendly mix of salt, celery seed, paprika, and other good stuff. Look by the seafood counter of your supermarket.

                                                The unseasoned, unsalted dungeness I've had really make me wonder if the people who are cooking the crabs ever eat them.


                                                1. re: wnissen

                                                  Old Bay seasoning was inserted in the Chronicle newspaper bag last week.

                                                  1. re: wnissen

                                                    I love crab, and find that since they live in salt water, they need very little seasoning, if any. I guess its all a matter of personal taste.

                                                    1. re: chemchef

                                                      I'm with you on that. A whiff of garlic and a touch of ginger will just about do it for me. I tried that free sample of old Bay on a salmon steak (the frozen ones from Costco) using the recommended amount, and it overpowered the salmon flavor; I can't imagine putting it on a perfectly good Dungeness crab

                                                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                        Old Bay is ultra strong. I love it, but it is more a regional taste- you have to get used to it, and it is over done a lot of the time. You should try the Utz Crab Chip if you ever have the chance- a potato chip with crab seasoning, and guess what? It is super authentic because they overdo it- like eating straight celery salt!

                                                2. I always get them at Alioto Lazio on Fisherpersons Wharf.Available live or cooked 11 months a year,and there are two or three parking spaces in front of the store. Great crew there too.

                                                  1. Just yesterday for $24 I scored 2 three pounders at Alioto-Lazio. I haven't seen crabs that big in years.

                                                    1. For the record, on Thu. 12/13 -- nearly a month after the normal opening day -- there was finally more than a single boat selling out of Pillar Point Harbor. I paid $4.50/lb. (Not factoring in gas over the hill to HMB).

                                                      No doubt for convenience and price, R99 et al are the better deal.

                                                      But, BUT .... I got a great photo of my four-year-old daughter haggling with one mean old SOB fisherman over the per-pound price. Memories ... are made of this.

                                                      Sushi Monster

                                                      PS: You really need to CALL Pillar Point before you make the drive. Up until today, it was very sketchy if anyone would be selling straight off the boat. 650 726-8724. Let's hope what's left of the season goes better ....