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Mar 9, 2009 06:05 PM

How Not To Serve Dungeness Crab

I was at a Dungeness crab food festival, and had 4 crab dishes. This rather sad culinary experience reinforced a basic food principle I have re-learned many times before. This is what I had:

*crab dip, which was like a gratin with lots of cheese and cream
*crab and avocado sandwich spread on a flatbread halfway between grilled polenta and a pita
*crab seviche with lots of onion, lime juice, and cilantro
*boiled crab in an Italian-type vinaigrette

They were all pretty good, but there was no obvious flavor that would tell you that you were eating fresh, sweet, heavenly, Dungeness crab. Only the boiled crab was good, and then only because the piece I got had obviously escaped being drowned in the Italian style salad dressing.

Look, Dungeness crab is heavenly. The rule is that the less you do to the flavor and texture, the better the flavor. The best dish was the one were the crab was simply boiled and served: no additional flavors, no variation in texture and color, no nothing.

So, the rule: the less you do to an ingredient, the better it will taste.

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  1. I have to agree with you when it comes to crab and lobster. I like some of the other ingredients alongside but please do not smother my shellfish with them! Currently working on a local spiny lobster I got today. I am having strong flavors with it, but not on and mixed with it. I want to taste that incredible sweetness!

    2 Replies
    1. re: torty

      I hate melted butter on lobster, and now chefs are actually poaching it in butter so you have no choice. If you like butter so much, just drink a cupful of it! And give me your lobster meat.

      1. re: coll

        I'm with you. I love lobster, but hold the butter- I like a squirt of lemon juice. But- I do like butter with my steamers!

    2. True story. Fresh out of college (Oklahoma State), I married and moved to Cordova, AK. My husband was an engineer with a company that built roads to nowhere (we ferried in to Cordova, then and I'm sure, now).

      We had a small grocery store and I spent the summer buying canned salmon. About a month before we moved on to the next road to nowhere, I discovered I could buy fresh cooked whole dungeness at the docks for a buck each.

      One of the next spots involved Yakutat and octupus. Yum.