Dungeness Crab

The local catch on the Pacific coast is the Dungeness crab, available in waters right off shore from November until June. Herb spends hours re-working his 6 crab traps, adding special bait bags, tying floats to the 100+ feet of nylon rope used to haul them in and making sure the doors will hinge open even in the roughest seas. Soon after opening day, the harbor outside Bodega Bay is littered with different colored and patterned floats, all placed by hopeful fishermen plotting spots on their radar screen that look lucky.

Herb’s average weekend consists of an early trip to the boat at dawn (or fog thirty), then a ½ hour cruise out into the outer harbor to drop the pots for a good couple hour “soak”, back into shore for a bowl of steaming clam chowder, then out to retrieve the catch – the limit is 10 per person and there have been several times that we’ve all reached our limits! The female Dungeness crabs, with sacks full of eggs on their bellies, Rocky crabs, starfish and anything else looking odd all gets thrown back.  After cleaning the boat and hauling buckets of crab home in the back of the truck, we put on a huge pot of water and start cooking!

Fresh crab, just whole cracked legs taken right out of the pot, dipped in butter or with a squeeze of lemon, is the epitome of a day’s hard work. But there are dozens of ways we enjoy crab, especially as a quick salad with a variety of lettuce and herbs from our garden and a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc. When you have time to prepare something a little more elegant, this recipe for Dungeness Crab and Asian Pear Salad from Chef Mark Dommen of One Market Restaurant in San Francisco is a great accompaniment for our Two Old Dogs Sauvignon Blanc.