Crab is back

Crab is back


Opening day of Dungeness crab season of Nov. 15 held good news for folks hoping for their annual crab during the upcoming holidays.

According to ABC news, sport fishermen in Monterey Bay are reporting that crabs were already showing up in their pots. Commercial fisherman, who drop their pots into the deeper waters, shared that almost anything would be better than last season.

Crab season in 2015 was postponed several months, until well after the holidays, due to the dangerously high levels of domoic acid that were found in the crab.

Fans of all things crab, lost one of our favorite holiday pleasures. The fishing industry lost millions.

If you are looking forward to holiday crab, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife says the crab season is looking good so far.

Wholesalers are estimating that we consumers will pay approximately $6 per pound. in the Bay area this season. One way to save a little on your purchase would be to shop for and serve your crab between the holidays instead of for the holiday itself. Just an idea.

According to Dave Weinberg and Chris Christopherson of Napa’s Osprey Seafood of California, at 1014 Wine Country Ave., they began receiving crab from south of Point Reyes on Nov. 16.

At the time of this writing, areas north of this region were still not open to crab fisherman. Testing will continue as the season moves forward. Osprey is offering cooked crab at $8.95 per lb., while live crabs are $7.95 per lb. A bit higher than the Bay area average. Osprey advised it’s best to call ahead because the don’t know from day to day what their supply may be.

With this optimistic news in mind, I think it’s time to dig out your favorite crab recipes.

Across the U.S. most of us share certain holiday food traditions, turkey, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce.

In the San Francisco Bay area, many holiday tables would not be considered complete without Dungeness crab.

These juicy residents of the deep, with their sweet meat, were first harvested commercially from North Bay waters in the mid 1800s. They've been a local tradition ever since.

The Dungeness Crab, aka “Cancer Magister”, got its common name from the town of Dungeness, Washington, where the first commercial harvesting of the crab was done earlier in the 1800s.

There’s not one specific winter holiday associated with Dungeness, so it will show up on Thanksgiving as a pre-feast appetizer, on Christmas with classic Louis dressing or on New Years Eve chilled and cracked with twists of lemon or lime (if you haven’t tried this option, it’s a winner). Crab and champagne, now that’s a celebration.

Dungeness is slightly sweeter and milder than most of the other types of crab, and this gives it great versatility in the kitchen. With this is mind, I prefer not to adorn my crab with too many heavy flavors. I want to taste the crab. Something to think about when you select your recipes and ingredients.

When buying crab, ask the folks at the counter when they received their shipment. The best answer is “this morning.” If the crab came in that morning, or even the day before, it should be good. If it’s been longer than a couple of days, I’d wait for the next shipment.

To save prep time, ask your purveyor to clean and crack the crabs for you.

Before you toss out those crab shells, think about this. If you freeze them you can use them later to create your own seafood stock. Freeze the stock until ready to use.

Seafood stock will offer you the opportunity to create a variety of seafood bisques and stews. Creamy shellfish sauce over stuffed chicken breast or thighs is an elegant special occasion dish.

Some less traditional options for serving crab could include floating crab pieces atop creamy pumpkin soup. For a light luncheon dish cut a ripe avocado in half, remove the pit and then scoop out some of the avocado, cube, mix with crab, toss in Louie dressing and return to avocado half and serve over a bed of salad greens with a wedge of lemon.

Mushrooms stuffed with crab is a personal favorite for special appetizers. I hope you will enjoy my recipes and mangia bene.

Diane De Filipi lives in the Napa Valley and leads cooking tours to Italy and Burgundy, France. Visit or for more information.


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