Baked Dungeness Crab
Learn how to go from live crab to delicious dish in a few swift steps.
- 1–2 live Dungeness crabs (1.5–2 lbs each)
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 3 Tbsp white wine or lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (if using mild garlic, add 2 more cloves)
- Cutting board and large, sharp knife or cleaver
- Hammer (if you aren't using a cleaver)
- Oven dish with cover
- Butcher your crab. This is the hard part for most people. The easiest way to do it is to flip the crab on its back and just cut it in half with a good swing of a really sharp knife. Use a hammer on the back of the knife if you don’t have a cleaver. The knife should pierce the crab between the eyes. Pull the carapace (main top shell) off from the legs; the crab may still twitch a bit (yep, sorry!). Remove the gills which are the grayish long triangular pieces attached to the body. The yellowish organ in the shell and belly is the ‘crab butter’ which is a delicacy. I find it a bit bitter, but it’s important to include that in the bake for flavour even if you aren’t going to eat it.
- Now that you’ve butchered the crab, I usually cut the legs into manageable pieces or crack them a bit with a hammer to make it easier to eat later. Put everything into a covered oven dish. Add all the other ingredients.
- Bake at 420° F for 20 minutes. (You can also do this on the stove top in a pot with lid on medium heat. Check for doneness at 15 minutes.) You know the crab is cooked when the shell turns bright red and the meat is white (not translucent).
- Serve crab with the crabby jus poured into each guest's bowl—it’s great to soak the crab meat in as you remove it from the shell.