Monday, December 28, 2009

'Tis the Season

Dungeness crab season.
Local boats have been bringing in some very fine specimens.
I remember reading the words of a great food writer, calling Dungeness "sweet." She called it sweet more than once, so she meant it.
I had never applied the adjective to crab, myself. It tasted crabby and fresh and oceany, but not sweet. We always bought our crab from reliable purveyors, so we knew it was not "off" or old. (Cracked and cleaned, already. Let somebody else do the murdering.)
Well, this year the crab was sweet. We couldn't even disguise the bling-flavor with additions of garlic, ginger, chile flakes and lemon juice. Did I mention butter? The meat was sweet.
I feel bad for what I've been missing out on all these years, even though I always enjoyed my Dungeness. I'm going to buy a couple more crabs soon, and cross my fingers that it'll still be sweet.

25 comments:

Kailyn said...

That just seems so wrong that you had not experienced a sweet crab til now. I have always thought of crab as having a hint of sweet -- just like most crustaceans.

MaggieB said...

Love love love crab. :)

cookiecrumb said...

Kailyn: Pity me!! But I'm finally redeemed. Don't the treasures of winter sort of make winter worth it? :)

MaggieB: Love love love. I started out on Mid-Atlantic coast blue crab, which is insanely good. Lucky we have these lunkers on the West Coast!

Elizabeth said...

I am heading over to Cannon Beach for New Year's Eve, just to be able to get fresh Dungeness for my New Year's Day celebration. With champagne.

cookiecrumb said...

Elizabeth: That is so effing the thing to do. Celebrate!
We're concocting a seafood appetizers menu for New Year's Eve, and... duh... crab? xx

Zoomie said...

Agree about the blue crabs - insanely good. But the sad news is that they no longer catch them in the Chesapeake - they flew the parent stock to Thailand to breed, sort of a sexy getaway for crabs, and fly it back now to BMI to feed the tourists. Only a few crabbers left on the Chesapeake now...

cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie: Horrors! It's one of those bits of news I don't want to hear, like global warming. Which is probably related to diminished blue crabs in the Chesapeake. Well, for now -- Dungeness. My treat next time.

kudzu said...

I had crab for (shhh) Thanksgiving dinner. A friend and I cooked a big live crab, fresh from the waters off the Marin shore. It was absolutely beyond fresh -- and s-w-e-e-t. We ate it with butter and fresh lemons. And Champagne. This year's catch seems to be yielding smaller but sweeter critters.

dancingmorganmouse said...

Love, love, love the crab - though only if someone has done all the work, picking over the shells and legs not so much fun. I had sand crab and other delights on the 24th, at a steak house no less!

cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu: As I understand it, stalwart old-time San Franciscans have crab on Thanksgiving. You done the right thing, and your story is utterly dreamy.

Mouse: Yippee! I must look up sand crabs.

cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu: Also, Cranky is flabbergasted (as usual) that I detected the sweetness this year, super taster as I am.

Chez Danisse said...

Tempting!

mentalie said...

i can never spot the 'sweet' in meat, or the veritable forest that people seem to be able to taste in wine either :(

cookiecrumb said...

Chez Danisse: Also! Leftovers made a dandy salad. I could tell you the secret ingredient but I'd have to kill you with thinly sliced radishes.

Mentalie: I think the "sweet" is there (if it's there at all); I've always found scallops sweet. But the terminology for wine is just nuts. "Forest"? What, pine? Mold? Dirt? Nah...

Chez Danisse said...

Cookiecrumb...You make me smile.

Zia said...

Love your new masthead ;-)

Chilebrown said...

I would guess one reason you never got the sweet flavor is because you buy cracked and cleaned crab. The best way to experience the Dungeness crab is to learn how to commit murder. (Crabicide). Your purveyors may be reliable, but the variables are many. How long has the crab been sitting. When was it cooked.
Cooking live crab is easy and not gruesome as you may think.

EB of SpiceDish said...

How was this not possible until now? You live in sweet crab mecca!

cookiecrumb said...

Chez Danisse: Back atcha.

Zia: I love being fickle. Merci!

Chilebrown: I am willing to say that you are probably right. But this latest batch of crabs was indeed already cooked and cracked, and superlative. The store we're patronizing tells us What Time of Day to come get the crabs! (I have done the crabicide... Just kinda don't want to.)

EB: I should be embarrassed. Think I oughta take down this post? ;-)

Chilebrown said...

I will cook Cranky and you live crabs anytime you would like. They are cheapor too. I have it down to a crabby science. I start by putting a big pot of salted water on to boil,that Ms. Goofy tenders. I go down to the Iternational market and pick out the biggest and best. A quick trip back, boil,crack and sweet crab meat is present. Oh you are so Marin challenged. Whoops! Peace Paul!

cookiecrumb said...

Chilebrown: That's... SWEET of you.
xoxo

Zoomie said...

It's true that the crab is sweeter when freshly cooked and cracked. We had a Christmas Eve dinner of warm crab (first I'd tasted warm) and it was quite different. I like the cold for it's rich crabbiness but the warm is wonderful, too, and sweeter. The bottom line is that crab is delicious just about any way it comes!

cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie: We went back to the store today for another crab; it was cooked and cleaned this morning!
The crab in the photo was roasted with the flavorings stirred into melted butter, poured over. Parsley after it comes out. A stellar method, and very easy.
We're going to eat today's New Year's Eve crab at cool room temp, in an Asian-flavored salad with bean threads and bean sprouts.

Sweet Bird said...

I grew up on Dungeness crab - even went crabbing once near Dungeness Spit. I didn't realize until moving away from Washington that not all crabs were noticeably sweet.

Glad you finally got some!

cookiecrumb said...

Sweet Bird: Wow, the Ground Zero of Dungeness. Lucky you.
Yes, it's almost odd to think of seafood as sweet, but I know I think of scallops that way. I got more Dungeness this week, and it was... sweet! Hope you're eating well.