Friday, August 14, 2015

Dungeness Crab

Last week, the husband, our boy and I took a little trip to San Juan Island. It's a short car and ferry boat trip from our new digs in Seattle. It's incredibly beautiful and relaxing...the perfect place to unwind after a cross-country move.

One of our adventures while we were there was catching Dungeness crab. It was entertaining and hilarious. Little crabs scampering all over the boat with our son giggling like a maniac and me trying to keep their pinchers from my toes and the husband trying to wrangle them into the cooler. And it was delicious, too. At the end of our crabbing, we had pile of fresh seafood for dinner. Glory be.

Interested in crab catching fun? This is how our day went down...

After securing a fishing license (let's stay out of trouble, now), our first step was baiting the crab trap (with stinky frozen salmon heads) and tossing it into the water. This was trickier than it seemed. You have to be strategic with where you leave your trap...if the water is too shallow, you'll end up catching rock crab instead of Dungeness. Not bad, but not ideal. If the water is too deep, you'll lose your trap. And then you're out a bunch of money and you have no crab. Lame.

At this point you need to exercise some patience. Your trap needs to sit in the water waiting for those little crabby crabs to wander in. So read a book, bake some cookies, take a hike, whatever. Just leave the trap. We left ours for about 12 hours.

Once your patience is exhausted, it's time to sail out to your trap and haul in your catch. Well, hopefully you have a catch. You could have a whole lot of nothin', but let's focus on the positive. (Our first day, we only ended up with one rock crab that was big enough to keep. So don't feel bad if you don't have a ton of crabs. Day two was much more fruitful.)

Pull up your trap and get your ruler ready. Dungeness crabs need to be at least 6 1/4" or you have to toss them back in. And they need to be male crabs, too. The ladies get to keep on swimmin'. Also keep in mind that you can only hang on to five crabs. So gather the big boys and pop them in a cooler for the boat ride back to land.

There are a couple ways to put the poor crabs out of their misery. Some people boil them alive, but we prefer to chop them in half with a well-placed shovel blow to end it all quickly. Then scoop out the guts and gills and use a hose to spray the crabs clean.

Now fill a big, giant pot with suuuuper salty water and get that baby boiling. If you're really serious, use this bad boy:

Carefully drop the crabs into the pot. Once the water returns to a boil, set your timer for 15 minutes. When the time is up, use tongs to remove the crabs from the water.

Place the crabs in ice water for a few minutes so they stop cooking. Once the crabs are cool enough to handle...dinner is served! There are plenty of things you can do with the crab, but when it was swimming in the ocean minutes earlier, we like to eat it simply with melted butter and a squeeze of lemon.

Forget cooking...let's get crabbing!

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