Dungeness crab boil: Salt or Old Bay? -- Need answer soon.

It’s been several years since I’ve been crabbing, but I can get locally-caught live Dungeness crabs from Barlean’s. Time for a crab boil! :slight_smile:

Here’s the plan: Two live Dungeness crabs, one for each of us. Put water and maybe four red potatoes in a bot and set them to boiling. I’m guessing about 20 minutes ought to do the trick. Lightly kill the crustaceans and clean them, for four meaty halves. Add the crab and four cobettes of corn to the pot. Boil 11 minutes. Serve 'em up, with melted butter and French bread.

OK, here’s the question: Just salt, or Old Bay?

When I was catching and cooking crabs a half a dozen years ago, I just put about ¼ cup of salt into the water. (Note: I liked salted fresh water better than the water they were caught in.) Tasted just fine. Should I stick with that? Or should I use Old Bay seasoning? If the latter, how much should I use?

I’m from Maryland, so Old Bay is mandatory (on just about everything), but I’m not going to tell you what to do.

If you do use Old Bay, just use the same amount as you would salt.

Old Bay is great for Maryland crabs. For some reason, I don’t prefer it for Dungeness. Culture and tradition, I guess. There’s no law against it.

Old Bay does work fine on Dungeness crabs. We’ve tried it that way using our local crabs as part of the traditional East Coast style boil with all the fixings.

That said, my preference is to steam Dungeness (so no flavor added) and then dip the meat in butter as I eat it.

Zatarain’s would be my recommendation, but I’m from the Gulf Coast, so YMMV.

Hm. Sounds like it can go either way. Having thought about it, I think I’m leaning toward just salted water. That’s been successful for me, and I do like the ‘clean’ taste.

I do love my Cajun and Creole foods, but that’s not what I’m going for today. Crawfish season is coming up in a couple of months…

In one or two weeks, actually. The freezing temps are going to limit it, though.


Ugh. I can’t move. bloat

We only ate one piece of corn and one potato apiece. But we each ate a whole crab.

And there’s tiramisu in the fridge…

We prefer to steam the Dungeness (and all crab for that matter).

Haven’t tried it in Bellingham, but we go crabbing off of public piers in Seattle, Edmunds, Mukilteo, Kayak Point (and once on Whidbey Island) during the season and more often than not get Dungeness and red rocks.

Red rocks have an attitude.

I am fond of water, salt [about isotonic level, same as sea water] a bay leaf or two, a dozen or so black peppercorns left whole and a lemon cut into quarters and gently squeezed and dropped into the water. I find most boils too heavily spiced to really get a good hit on the real flavor of the critter.

For the whole drawn butter thing, I prefer to leave in the milk solids, add a bit of garlic and a dab of lemon zest. I find that the saltiness of the milk solids is complimentary to the garlic and lemon zest. Plain drawn butter is just so bland. Same mix is also great with artichokes, and also for dipping bites of baked or boiled potatoes or vegetables in.

I will say that my deathbed meal would probably be one of those huge, beautiful globe artichokes, a pair of lobster tails, some salt potatoes and a fruit and cheese plate for dessert. With my luck however I will be stuck in a hospital or nursing home and get glop.

Having been an East Coaster all my life, I only know blue crabs.

What does dungeness taste like? Similar to lobster?

It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten lobster. It’s so hard to find Pacific spiny lobster up here. (Never seen it live or whole; just ‘Australian lobster tails’.) Crabs taste different from lobsters. A little stronger flavour, IMO. Dungeness crabs are not as bland as king crabs or opilio crabs, and I think have a sweeter taste.

The SO came into the kitchen to say goodbye to the crabs last night. ‘Good bye, crabs! :frowning: See you at dinner!’ She didn’t watch me clean them. (I couldn’t find my bolo knife, so I got to use my rarely-used Henckels cleaver.)

Cleaver? What for? The bodies are easily cracked by hand and you just need something firm to crack the claws with.

Because the crabs wouldn’t take kindly to being rent apart, and I don’t want to be pinched!

Ah! I just cook 'em whole

I don’t have a proper crab pot; just a large pot. (The SO used it for canning plum preserves.) It just barely holds to cobettes of corn, two not-baby red potatoes, and four cleaned crab halves. Gotta clean the crabs before cooking them.

No, not like lobster at all. Lobster has a more dense, firm flesh like an Alaskan King crab. Dungeness is in my opinion far superior to any of the Alaskan crabs, king, opies, snow crab.

Dungeness is sweet, flaky, moist, and hard to describe. It you ever have an opportunity to find any on the east coast in will be quite expensive. And you will probably never eat another blue crab again.

Our Christmas dinner at my father-in-laws house is always fresh Dungeness, cooked only in heavily salted water and nothing else. Serve with melted whole butter and garlic bread.

When I go out crabbing with my friend who has a boat we always clean them alive. He has a table with a crab hook like they use in the canneries. It is like a garden trowel about 2 or 3 inches wide welded to the side of the table. You push the crab down on it to remove the back and most of the guts, rinse out the center and done. And then we cook them in water with lots of rock salt, like a fist full per gallon.

I need to get my annual shellfish license, costs $7.00 and covers crab, mussels, and my razor clam habit. I still have a couple pounds of cleaned Dungeness meat and about 6 dozen razors in the freezer. I need to start eating them because it is time to refill the freezer.

God, I love the north Oregon coast!