The Dungeness crab season begins on Thursday, July 3 in many parts of Puget Sound and Hood Canal, and Seattle chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas provides his take on how to wow your guests at the dining table.
This season we’ll have weekly recipes and advice from now through October on how to cook up and dish out a wide variety of local seafood by experts like Anthony’s Restaurant; Tiffany Haugen, Outdoor Cooking expert/author; tackle shop owners; local seafood-market owners; and fishing guides and charter services.
Douglas is owner of Lola; Palace Kitchen; Dahlia Lounge; Dahlia Bakery; Etta’s; Serious Pie Downtown; Seatown; Brave Horse Tavern; Cuoco; Serious Pie & Biscuit-Westlake; Serious Pie-Virginia; Tanaka San; and Rub With Love Schack. Some of his other works include Assembly Hall Juice and Coffee and Home Remedy, and this summer he plans on opening a cooking school called Hot Stove Society at the Hotel Andra.
Here is Douglas’ advice on how to prepare them, and wow your guests at the next meal:
I grew up in Delaware on blue crabs steamed in loads of Old Bay, but after moving to Seattle I quickly acclimated myself to this region’s sweet Dungeness crab. You’ll find Dungies on the menus of several of my restaurants, whether steamed, cracked, and served (either warm or chilled) with drawn butter, spicy mayo, and garlic bread, or picked from the shell and fashioned into crisp-crusted crab cakes.
We most often think of Dungeness crab for dinner, but you can’t beat it for adding excitement to a special breakfast. One of my favorite ideas that I came up with for my I Love Crab Cakes cookbook was to take a twist on that Chinese-American classic egg foo yung with the addition of fresh crabmeat. Whisk up some eggs with soy, mirin, sliced shiitakes, mung bean sprouts, sliced scallions, minced celery, and Dungeness crab meat, then drop the mixture by the four-ounce ladleful into a hot skillet generously filmed with oil to form patties. Brown the patties on both sides and serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon and a shake of Tabasco or a dollop of Chinese hot chili paste. You’ll be amazed at how well the delicate sweetness of the crab works with traditional egg foo yung flavors.
You can also add crabmeat to a frittata. Try making one with beaten eggs, sliced and sautéed mushrooms, red onion, and fennel bulb, the crabmeat, and shredded Italian Fontina. Or, if you’re making Eggs Benedict for a festive breakfast or brunch, do as we do at Etta’s and replace the traditional slice of ham with a mound of Dungeness crab meat. Sauté the crabmeat very gently in a little butter to warm it, adding some spinach leaves if you like, then top the buttered English muffin halves with the crabmeat and the poached eggs, ladling hollandaise over the top.
Here are a few tips for working with Dungeness crabmeat. Before using it in a recipe, drain your crabmeat in a sieve and, if it’s wet, gently squeeze the crabmeat with your hands to remove excess liquid (though don’t get too energetic squeezing out all the flavor.) If you’re mixing the crabmeat with other ingredients, mix gently so you don’t smash up the precious lump meat. Also Dungeness tends to be salty, so don’t add additional salt until after you taste.