Home on the Range
Tis Dungeness Season,
And Time to Get Crackin'
By Fred Delkin
We in the Pacific Northwest are blessed to live along
the salty depths that are the planet's home for the Dungeness
Crab...for which, we submit, there is no earthly shellbound
equivalent. Yes, Lobsters deserve their gourmet plaudits,
but other Crab, including the King of the Bering Sea, cannot
compare, in our opinion, to the sweet succulence of a
The Dungeness commercial season now extends 9 months
of the year, with an expanded fishery in Alaska producing
prime crab through spring and early summer. Oregon's
sport crabbing extends through summer and into fall, but local Dungies trapped from our coastal bays
are not at their prime during summer and early fall, though we've boiled 'em up beachside for beer-fueled
feeds along Tillamook and Netarts bays without complaint. The Oregon commercial season kicks off in
December and prices are lowest leading into the holiday season.
Your local fish monger sells Dungies in the shell, both live and cooked. Chilled whole crab-in-
shell with diners equipped with melted butter and a pair of crackers are the usual Northwest style
of consumption. However, when yours truly owned historic Jake's Crawfish restaurnt in
downtown Portland, we found that experirenced tourists would demand "Jake's BBQ Crab" and
we resurrected this recipe from historic files.
The secret recipe:
The following treatment is hands-on & messy, but well worth the effort! You cook the sauce, not
the Crab, and pour the sauce over the pre-boiled, partitoned crab-in-shell in serving bowls. The
whole pre-cooked Crab can be quartered and served two quarters per diner (whole crabs will
range from 2-4 lbs. each). Crack the shells before serving, but leaving the meat intact. Serve
with bibs and a large bowl for discarded shell, and a side of sliced garlic bread for dipping in the
sauce. Liquid in this recipe is adequate for two Crab or 4 servings.
The BBQ Sauce:
1 quart water 4 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp. Ground Cumin 1 whole Garlic Bulb, minced
1 tbsp. Chili Powder 4 Celery branches, chopped fine
1 tbsp. Curry Powder 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
r tbsp. Sugar juice of 4 Lemons
3 whole Cloves 2 tsp. Dry Mustard Powdwe
2 Bay leaves 1/2 lb. Unsalted Butter
4 Bouillon cubes
Mix Curry Powder, Cumin, Cayenne, Mustard & Chili Powder with Water into a paste,
stir in with all other ingredients in a saucepan and wsimmer for 30 minutew. Stir in Bouillon
cubes strqain the broth. Now place Crab sections in a really big bowl and pour hot broth over
them and let steep for 10 minutes. Transfer Crab sections from broth to serving bowls, heat the
broth to steaming, pour over each serving and get at it!!
Serve this paradisical concoction with a fine flagon or two (or three!) Of Northwest microbrew.
(OMED editorial comment: According to Oregon State University, the Dungeness
crab is canniballistic. You are what you eat, so crabs taste great because their diet
© 2011 Oregon Magazine