Oregon’s most valuable seafood was the centerpiece of a recent dining experience that’s so easy, anyone can prepare a Dungeness Dinner because crab is one of our most versatile seafoods.
It’s quite a catch too; especially at Fishhawk Fisheries in Astoria where hundreds of pounds of fresh crab are off-loaded into totes each day.
Dungeness crab is Oregon’s most valuable seafood worth more than 75-million dollars to coastal communities.
Astoria fisherman, Steve Fick says this year’s crab catch is “excellent” too – how can he tell?
“They are very full,” said Fick. “And when you pick the crab up you won’t see a lot of water dripping out of it. These are optimum crab right now. It’s really the best crab I’ve ever seen quality wise in years.”
Fick loves to share that good news with three recipes that dare to be different.
Recipe #1 is called “Crab in Black Bean Sauce.” Steve sautéed two tablespoons of ground ginger, two tablespoons of minced garlic and ¼ cup of soy sauce.
After five minutes, he added ½ cup of Black Bean Sauce and brought the mixture to a boil.
Sharp, pungent, salty and spicy with a hint of sweet, black bean sauce contributes a flavor to crab like no other.
Two cooked crabs were cleaned and then broken into smaller sections – then we pounded (small meat hammer) the shells open so to let the sauce reach the meat.
Fick placed the sections into the warm sauce and allowed it to simmer for 15 minutes.
Recipe #2 is called “Crab With Sole” and showcases a flatfish you may have missed called Petrale Sole.
Fick called it “the finest of the flatfishes” that are caught off the Oregon coast. “When you go into the store, this is really the best ‘sole’ fish you can get.”
Submerge and cover each filet in seasoned flour (salt and pepper added to taste) then place 6 filets on a cookie sheet (cover in foil and spray with Pam.)
Broil the filets for just a few minutes to cook through.
Petrale sole is the firmest of all flatfishes and is prized as mild and sweet. It is perfect match with Dungeness crab.
Fick liberally topped two cups of crab meat across the cooked filets and topped the crab and fish with a rich and easy to prepare hollandaise sauce.
Finally, Recipe #3 called “Pasta and Crab” begins with 8 ounces of linguine pasta rising to a short boil as Steve chopped 6 cups of chopped kale.
“I like the kale in this recipe because it’s healthy for you and it’s something different that works well with the crab,” added Fick.
Fick sautéed half of the crab meat and 3 tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes in 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
He added 8 ounces of chicken broth to the mixture and allowed it to cook through for 3 minutes before adding the kale. A lid is placed on the frying pan to cook through the kale (about 3-4 minutes).
With that, the table was set as Fick noted: “These are all relatively easy recipes to prepare in just a few minutes when you get home from work.”
Plates are filled and the diners weighed in. Walt Kastner said, “I like it – it’s simple and not that hard to do. I think I could even do it.”
Shannon Dotson called the black bean sauce, “Amazing! That flavor was really strong and it was wonderful.”
Jeff Jordan agreed and said “The saturation of the flavor between the meat and the shell was delicious. I really liked it.”
Jean Kastner also thought it was delicious. “I’ve never had it this way before – very good!”
I asked guest diner, Kerry Harsin, which was his favorite. He offered with a chuckle, “My favorite bite was the last one I had!”
Finally, Steve suggested that each of us should try more diverse crab recipes: “This is a year-round product that you can easily find in the grocery or your fish counter. You own this delicious seafood so take advantage of it.”
More Recipe #1 – Crab with Black Bean Sauce
This Asian style dish comes with a savory sauce to compliment the Dungeness crab. The crab should be steamed first or use store-bought, precooked Dungeness crab to cut your preparation time. Black Bean Sauce is bottled usually in small glass jars as a concentrated paste. The paste can be found in Asian markets and Ethnic Food sections of your local supermarket. Using a wok is preferred for cooking this dish, but a large cast-iron frying pan also works well.
Two whole Dungeness crabs; pre-cooked, 1/2 cup Black Bean Sauce (concentrated paste) 2 tablespoons minced garlic, 2 tablespoons minced or crushed ginger, 3 tablespoons corn starch; mix in 1/2 cup warm water. 3 Tbsp. Peanut oil or vegetable oil. ½ cup of chopped green onion. Salt and pepper to taste. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Preparing Pre-Cooked Crab:
Clean the crab by lifting up it’s “tail;” the small flap on the abdomen and continue to pry off the back of the crab completely. With top of the crab facing up, break into two pieces or “sections.”
Remove and discard gills that are attached to both halves of the meaty section of the body. They look like little fibrous feathers and are pale-white/grayish in color and can be easily pulled away with your fingers. Discard the main body shell.
Detach crab legs by slicing through the meaty section, leaving a piece of body meat attached to each leg. Slightly crush the leg sections and claws with a meat hammer to allow flavors to seep.
In wok or frying pan, heat peanut oil or vegetable oil and quickly saute garlic and ginger.
As broth comes to boiling, add black bean sauce, gradually not all at once because this paste is salty.
Add black pepper to taste.
Once taste is to your liking, mix crab in sauce to infuse flavor into legs. Push crab legs upward to sides of a wok to create an empty well at bottom of a wok. As broth continues to boil, notice a slurry will develop. This brings additional body and flavor to the sauce.
Reduce heat to medium-high; add corn starch mixture gradually and stir to thicken broth/gravy to your liking. Give final quick mix of crab legs and turn off heat, ready to serve.
If using a serving platter, place crab legs with claws pointing out to the edge of the platter and meaty sections in center. Pour sauce over meaty sections and garnish with chopped green onion. Enjoy.
More Recipe #2 – Crab With Sole
Here's the classic Hollandaise Sauce - lusciously rich, lemony and smooth. Spoon it over fish and seafood for a heavenly touch.
Ingredients:3 large egg yolks, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 cup firm butter
In 1 1/2-quart saucepan, vigorously stir egg yolks and lemon juice with a wire whisk. Add 1/4 cup of the butter. Heat over very low heat, stirring constantly with wire whisk, until butter is melted.
Add remaining 1/4 cup butter. Continue stirring vigorously until butter is melted and sauce is thickened. (Be sure butter melts slowly so eggs have time to cook and thicken the sauce without curdling.) If the sauce curdles (mixture begins to separate), add about 1 tablespoon boiling water and beat vigorously with wire whisk or hand beater until it's smooth.
Serve immediately. Store covered in refrigerator. To serve refrigerated sauce, reheat over very low heat and stir in a small amount of water.
More Recipe #3 Linguine with Crab
Ingredients: 8 ounces linguine pasta, 1 lb. of crabmeat, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 4 cloves garlic, very finely chopped, 1/4 cup dry white wine, 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, 8 ounces chicken broth, 6 cups of chopped kale, salt and freshly ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped.
Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. I add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the water.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve two tablespoons of the water
Pick through the crab to remove any shells and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté 1-1/2 minutes. Add the wine and butter and sun-dried tomatoes and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
Add half the crabmeat and season with pepper to taste. Cook 1 minute to heat the crab through and then remove from the heat.
Combine the linguine with the crab mixture, adding a little of the reserved water if needed to help coat the pasta with the sauce. Add the remaining crab meat and then the parsley and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.
If you would like to visit more of Oregon – consider a walk on the wild side with my latest book: “Grant’s Getaways: Oregon Adventures with the Kids.” You’ll find activities to engage any kid, from archery to clamming on the coast to hunting for thundereggs to zip-lining through trees in an aerial adventure park.
In addition, be sure to check out “Grant’s Getaways Guide to Wildlife Watching in Oregon.” you will enjoy 48 uniquely Oregon adventures highlighting my fish and wildlife encounters. scores of colorful photos by “Grant’s Getaways” photographer, Jeff Kastner, show off some of our finest moments in the field. You can also learn more about many of my favorite Oregon adventures in: "Grant's Getaways: 101 Oregon Adventures."
You can reach Grant: Gmcomie@kgw.com