Down on the Astoria docks is where the work pays off as Oregon’s commercial crab season officially opened this past week. Thousands of pounds of fresh crab were delivered to the docks this past Monday.
Oregon’s Dungeness crab harvest is the state’s most valuable seafood; last year, the coast-wide catch was worth more than $50 million.
“It’s an economic component that fills a big void from December to March for many fishermen,” said Steve Fick, who owns Fishhawk Fisheries in Astoria. “Families live here and the infrastructure of support - like the crab pot businesses or the marine supply stores – all of that business stays in our community and it is key to the viability of rural life along the Oregon coast.”
That’s good news for Steve’s friend and local chef, Preston Van Hook, who said it is a lot of fun to catch your own crabs – either at the grocery or from a boat - and then head to the kitchen.
“I like to cook, I like good food and I especially enjoy the taste of fresh seafood and what you can do with it," noted the longtime cook who owns a passion for Dungeness crab because it is so versatile.
“You can put it in an omelet; make crab cakes, add it to pasta or in a salad and you will always taste the crab because it’s that strong and very rich.”
Steve and Preston teamed up to share their favorite recipes: the first is so easy anyone can try – a crab dip that included 1 cup of mayo, 1 can of tomato soup, a small bottle of chili sauce and 8 ounces cream cheese. Steve thoroughly mixed all of the ingredients and then added 5-6 cups of crab meat! It was matched with crackers of choice.
Meanwhile, Preston prepared a crab fettuccini pasta dish that started with a simple sauté of varied vegetables that included red, green and yellow peppers, green onions, sliced mushrooms and basil.
A pot of cooked fettuccini was prepared and was standing by! “You do not want to cook the pasta totally; I leave it al dente because I want some texture to the pasta and not mushy,” added Van Hook.
He also prepped a delicious alfredo sauce and added it to the vegetables and warmed the dish through until just bubbly. The fettuccini was added and then followed by several cups of fresh crab.
More crab and grated gouda cheese top it off before sliding into the dish into a 425-degree oven for 5 minutes; just long enough for the cheese to melt.
Both dishes were simple, easy to prepare and delicious! “It’s a nice filling lunch or dinner,” added Fick. “You want to be in the mood for something rich and robust…perfect for a cold winter’s night.”
As we enjoyed a very filling seafood dinner, I asked Fick what he liked most about the adventure that’s just off his front door step.
“Oh, it’s simple to do and everyone can be involved in it. It’s easy to catch a dozen crabs per person with lots of action for kids. And – you never really know until you pull the pot up what you got and that is fun!”
Ingredients: 8 oz cream cheese, 1 can tomato soup,1 bottle chili sauce,1 cup mayo, 1-1½ lbs. crab meat. Beat cream cheese until soft and smooth. Add next 3 ingredients. Add crabmeat. Chill and serve with crackers or chips.
CRAB BACK FETTUCCINE
12 oz. fettuccine, 1 -1¼ lb. crab body meat, 1 pepper each-thinly sliced (red, green, yellow) 8 oz. mushrooms 1/4 c. green onion-sliced basil-chopped 14-16 oz. Alfredo sauce gouda cheese asparagus spears (parboil)
Clean cooked crab shells. Boil and cook pasta. Parboil asparagus spears. Saute peppers, mushrooms, green onions and basil in a little olive oil. When tender, add alfredo sauce and crab and heat until hot. Place crab mixture into crab shells and place in baking dish (individual casserole dishes can be used if crab shells are not available). Place asparagus spears around edge of dishes and sprinkle with Gouda cheese. Place crab legs on top of cheese and bake at 375º for 12-15 minutes.
Grant's Getaways is produced in partnership with Travel Oregon, as well as:
- The Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
- The Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.
- and the Oregon State Marine board
You can learn more about many of Grant’s favorite Oregon adventures in his new book: "Grant's Getaways: 101 Oregon Adventures"
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