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Crab 101: How to Cook Fresh Crab

When a friend of ours invited the boys onto his boat to pull up crab pots on their first full day of summer vacation, my mind starting swirling with all the possibilities of crab delights. As a note: trap-caught Dungeness crabs, from California, Oregon, and Washington are labeled 'Best Choice' on the Seafood Watch List. Click to see the full list of recommendations: here.

So, I packed lunches, headed to work, and off they went. When I came home, the boys had a cooler packed with half a dozen large Dungeness crabs. Sweet! Thanks for the invite, Captain Dan. The boys will be writing posts about their first experience crabbing.

Here's the first step to turning your fresh-caught crab into delicious dishes: cook them.

Make sure that your pot is large enough for your crabs. You'll want them to be completely covered with water and still be three to four inches below the pot rim. Fill your pot with water, cover it, and bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat.

Grasp crabs, from the rear end, and plunge them headfirst into the boiling water; if you have too much water, scoop out the excess. Cover pan and bring the water to a boil again. When the water boils, reduce heat to a simmer. When the crabs float, they are done. For 2 to 3 pound crabs, that might take 20 to 25 minutes.

Drain crabs and rinse briefly with cool water. They are now ready for cracking and cleaning. At this point, you can refrigerate them and use them within three to five days. Some people go as long as seven. I wouldn't risk it...but crabs never last longer than three days in our house anyway.

Stay tuned for how to crack and clean fresh crab...and what we're making with these beauties. D requested crab pot pie and Jake requested a crab salad. I'm thinking some kind of seafood stew as well.


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