Well, the boats headed out yesterday morning and the 2012-13 Dungeness crab season has officially begun! Here on the West Coast Dungeness is a holiday tradition. Prices will be a bit steeper for consumers this year, but not so steep as to keep crab off many a Thanksgiving Day menu.
Dungeness crab season is long — it goes from November until June — but as YumSugar reports, about 80 percent of Bay Area Dungeness is brought in by the end of the year. And Dungeness has been certified as a sustainable seafood, too — rated "best choice" by multiple watchdog groups because they're plentiful and caught in pots versus trawlers.
Everyone in the Bay Area has their favorite place to buy Dungeness, like Alioto Lazio Fish Company in San Francisco, and Half Moon Bay Crab Boats down in the South Bay and you can buy Dungeness live, cooked, or as picked meat.
Most aficionados prefer to purchase live crabs, then boil in salted water for 15 to 18 minutes. If you'd like, you can add seasonings to the boiling water, too, before dropping in the crabs (no crowding!) Cover the pot and boil until the crabs float — about 15 minutes — then give it another two minutes before removing the crabs with tongs.
If live crabs aren't available, simply buy whole cooked crabs. Look for one that's heavy for its size and has its legs curled up beneath it. (This is a sign the crab is fresh. Crabs with hanging legs should be avoided.) You can reheat a cooked Dungeness in boiling water for just three or four minutes or under the broiler for the same amount of time.
The average Dungeness weighs about two pounds and about 25 percent of that is the creamy, buttery meat for which it's known. If you're serving it, get two to three crabs per person.
Fans of J wines absolutely love Dungeness with our J Cuvée Brut. Its vibrant lemon peel aromas and Fuji apple flavors play well against the richness of the crab. We also love Dungeness with our J Pinot Gris or a particularly crisp, tight Chardonnay like our J STRATA Chardonnay.
If you don't feel like preparing the crab yourself, we recommend heading straight for Willi's Seafood and Raw Bar here in Healdsburg for their crab BLT with green goddess dressing — featuring huge chunks of fresh, expertly seared crab.