Fresh Dungeness crab plucked from Puget Sound here in Seattle is a special summertime treat. The season is ending this Labor weekend so we’re dropping our crab pots and pulling up as many of this delicacy as we can! Delicate and sweet crabmeat can be enjoyed in a number of ways, from simply steamed and dipped into lemon butter, to seafood chowders and cioppino, to crab cakes. Steaming crabs with fresh citrus, herbs, and a splash of white wine is a simple and elegant way to prepare “Dungies.” Their naturally sweet meat doesn’t need much, but a few basic ingredients will elevate and brighten their already delicious flavor.
We first steamed our crabs (all Dungeness and one Red Rock) in white wine with lemon, fresh ginger and green onions and served half this way. Then we kicked it up a notch with the other half and tossed the crabs in a sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce (recipe follows). Both are beautiful preparations that will delight your guests, especially when served with a Blanc de Blanc Champagne.
Steamed Dungeness Crabs with Lemon, Ginger and Green Onions
8 Dungeness crabs
The zest and juice of one large lemon
4 green onions, green and white parts, finely chopped
3-4 tbs fresh ginger, grated
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups water
Clean crabs and cut each in half down the center, then half again crosswise (each quarter piece should have body meat and legs).
Place half the crab on top of a steamer basket in a large stockpot. Sprinkle half the lemon zest, green onions and fresh grated ginger over the crabs. Add a second layer of crabs and sprinkle with the remaining zest, green onions and ginger.
Add the lemon juice, white wine and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Note: if you started with fresh live crabs, the cooking time will be longer; about 30 minutes for 8 crabs, or until a rosy red. If using flash frozen or already cooked crabs, you just need to reheat them for about 10 minutes.
Sweet and Spicy Thai Chili Sauce
(Shown at top)
1 1/2 cup Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce (buy here or look for it in the Asian section of your supermarket)
1 cup dry white wine
4-6 green onions, white and green parts, finely chopped
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook until the sauce is reduced by about half and has thickened; about 15-20 minutes. Pour over crab and gently stir until crab is well coated.