My parents came out to visit last week, and it’s become a tradition that they ship out some dungeness crabs from the West coast every time they visit. Personally, I think it’s a wonderful tradition.
Steaming dungeness crab is a delicate process, since most of the flavor comes naturally from the crab itself; instead, you want to season it lightly to complement the crab’s distinct taste.
whole dungeness crabs, cooked (1 per person)
fresh basil leaves (1 per crab), chopped
2 cups white wine
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning (per crab)
Because this dish is dependent on the number of crabs you have, I’ve made the ingredients list incremental. Most dungeness crabs are sold already cooked. If you don’t have access to Old Bay, you can make some using 1 tsp celery salt, 1 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp mustard powder and 1/4 tsp white pepper.
To clean the crabs, first remove the legs and claws at the joint closest to the body. Pry off the shell, remove the lungs and innards (“mustard”), and break the two body portions in half. Rinse them lightly in water. Here’s a quick video of the process:
Once they’re cleaned, place them on a steam rack in a large pot filled with the white wine. Next, start adding the crab pieces in layers. With each layer, sprinkle some Old Bay on top and add some basil.
Cover and steam the crabs on high for about 5-10 minutes. You don’t want to steam them too long, just warm them up. Serve immediately with melted butter or mayo.