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Old Bay Dungeness Crab

Ah, the scent of pee. So romantic. At least, that’s what the male Dungeness crab thinks when a female is nearby during mating season.

Dungeness crab, or Cancer magister, is named after the town of Dungeness, Washington – which is named after a headland on the coast of Kent, England. This “master crab” is fished on the West Coast and lives in habitat ranging from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska south to Santa Cruz, California. According to Wikipedia, Dungeness, WA was the location of the West Coast’s first commercial fishery (1848).

Today, you should only get male Dungeness crab on your plate, in keeping with sustainable fishing practices.

The word “Dungeness” may have evolved from a French word meaning “dangerous nose.” Good warning to keep those big, strong claws far away from your shnozz.

Last week, a friend called in the crew to demolish more than a dozen of the biggest Dungeness crabs I’ve ever seen. We did a good job, but he had plenty of meat left over for crab cakes the next day.

In San Francisco, I like to buy live crab at the Asian markets in the Sunset or the Richmond – they do a brisk business so it’s fresh and the price is usually great. The crab season generally runs from November to April.

This foolproof method (see video) for steaming Dungeness crab results in moist, succulent meat flavored with salty, savory Old Bay.  Depending on the size of the crabs, you’ll need to steam them 15-20 minutes.


    1. Where’s my care package??!? This sounds amazing!!

    2. Ina says:

      Brings back memories of the wonderful crab fest you put on a few years ago…

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