Other Shellfish

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.

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This is an update to a recipe I posted earlier, but with dashi (broth) made from scratch in order to reduce our MSG intake.

This dish has become our go-to easy lunch on the weekends, when we’re running around the house doing chores. Most of the “cooking” involves letting things soak or simmer, so with some agile timer-setting you can make this dish with minimal effort.

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NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

As with most seafood, if you keep an eye on prices you can get lobster for surprisingly cheap. What’s more is that with lobster, bigger is not always better – the tastiest lobsters are right around the 1.5 lb weight. I tend to consider a max live lobster price to be $7/lb, which results in a $11 lobster cooked in the comfort of your own home.

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I’ve found that people are quick to throw meat onto a grill, but tend to shy away from seafood, especially shellfish. It’s a shame, because grilling clams is probably the easiest grilled dish on the planet. I like grilling the big ones because they’re cheaper than the smaller steamer clams (I bought four big clams for $2 the other day) and they’re a nice change of pace from the regular grilling fare. Here is the easiest, simplest way to grill clams. I’ll do some later posts that add a few more ingredients to the mix; but for now, let’s perfect the basics.

The only preparation needed is to clean the clams – place them in a bucket or pot with cold tap water, and add 1/2 cup of corn meal. Let them sit like this for four hours. This allows the clams to filter out sand so you don’t get any crunchy surprises during your meal.

To grill the clams, simply put them on a grill at a med/med-high temperature and let them cook for about 10 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready when they pop open. Serve with garlic butter.

This is a great time of the year (and the perfect location for us) for Maryland blue crab. If you live near the Chesapeake Bay and you have a hankering for some crab, you have three options: you can go to a nice seafood restaurant and pay a premium, you can go to a dodgy restaurant and get something for a little cheaper, or you can buy some crabs and enjoy them in the comfort of your home. For the most part, we go with option number three. Here’s a quick and easy way to steam Chesapeake/Atlantic blue crab.

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