Fully Cooked Dungeness Crab — The sweet, affordable luxury for just about any occasion
I have discovered Costco’s Dungeness Crab Legs only about a year ago. The first time I bought fresh ones I found the cleaning part of it really cumbersome, actually offputting. I didn’t want to deal with shell, gills, mouth, apron, cleaning, and breaking in half.
So I tried the fully cooked version and never looked back!
What are Dungeness Crabs?
Wikipedia states that Dungeness Crab is “ a species of crab that inhabits eelgrass beds and water bottoms on the west coast of North America. It typically grows to 20 cm (7.9 in) across the carapace and is a popular seafood. Its common name comes from the port of Dungeness, Washington, United States, where it is a prized crustacean that supports the most valuable fishery on the west coast.”
When are Dungeness Crabs in Season?
Normally, the Dungeness crab fishing season starts in November and runs through June of the following year, but the season started more than a month late at the end of 2020 due to new state regulations brought about by dangerous whale entanglements.
COSTCO’s Fully Cooked Dungeness Crab
The COSTCO website states, “Dungeness Crab is the delicious secrets of the Pacific. Northwest Fish Dungeness Crab is harvested from the icy waters of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California. Each crab is cooked within hours of being caught to lock in the natural flavors. The meat has a distinctive, sweet flavor and is a fan favorite of the seafood enthusiast.”
It’s guaranteed to be “certified sustainable, fully cooked, ready to eat, frozen at the peak of freshness.”
What to Look for When Buying Fully Cooked Dungeness Crab
I’m looking at the weight, of course. You need about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds per person. We usually get a great meal for two from a pack that weighs about 2 1/2 pounds and costs between $25 and $30.
The other thing to look for is: Are there legs missing? Bay area fishmonger Jacob Benjamin, from Hapuku Fish Shop in Oakland’s Rockridge Market Hall, says in The Mercury News, “Buy crabs that have all their legs, especially if you buy crab that has already been cooked. Missing legs mean the crab was overcooked. Those crabs will have tough meat and that meat will be hard to get out of the shell.”
Preparing Dungeness Crab
I must say, I’ve never been disappointed by COSTCO’s Dungeness Crabs (and no, COSTCO is not paying me for writing that or anything else in this article!) All I need to do is open the package, wash the crabs under cold water, and put them on a baking sheet with a little bit of water. That’s all.
I then heat it up in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
While the crabs are in the oven, I quickly prepare the dip. I cannot eat Dungeness Crab without melted garlic butter. Jacob Benjamin says, “Melted butter is the most popular accompaniment, but I also like mustard, aioli, or cocktail sauce.”
And it is so easy to do, just melt the butter any which way you like (microwave, oven, stovetop) and add one or two cloves of minced garlic. Voila! If you read one of my older posts you know that my philosophy is:
YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH GARLIC.
Wines to Pair Dungeness Crab With
There are three types of wine I like to pair the crabs with:
1. A full-bodied Chardonnay like Napa Valley’s William Hill
2. A light Rosé like Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses
3. A nice pink Prosecco like Cecilia Beretta Prosecco Rosé
If you check those wines, they are all on the market for under $20.
In other words, you’ll be able to prepare a very tasty dinner for two, incl Dungeness Crab, bread, and wine for under $50. Not bad, right?