Stir-fried Dungeness crab is an easy, light meal for the night before the big feast. Image source:
Flickr CC user Naotake Murayama
Don’t get me wrong, I love turkey, Thanksgiving and a crowd of hungry people in my house. But because I have seafood on the brain, when I think of fall, I think of Dungeness crab, a SF Bay Area tradition. While last year’s season was a bust, there are plenty of reasons to give thanks this year. So, the night before Thanksgiving, I’ll be grateful to serve easy, delicious and crowd-pleasing crab.
All Clear for Dungeness This Year
If you live on the West Coast you probably heard all the fuss about how high levels of a natural toxin called domoic acid were found in crab in California, Oregon, and Washington last year, causing the Dungeness season to be almost a complete bust. It was a disaster for fishermen and a big disappointment to crab lovers like me who look forward to the tradition of crab during the holidays. The good news is that state officials have declared the commercial crab fishery good to go this year, and Bay Area crab boats headed out just a few days ago on November 15.
Giving Thanks with Crab
I know turkey is on most tables for Thanksgiving, but crab makes more sense to me, especially living on the West Coast. It’s a celebratory dish; it’s seasonal and it’s local. Still, I’m not going to mess with the turkey tradition--so I make Dungeness crab for a smaller group on the night before Thanksgiving. The evening before Thanksgiving is always busy in my house, with family arriving, pre-turkey day meal prep taking place, and last minute runs to the grocery store. You’ll want to make something fun and festive for dinner the night before, something that isn’t time consuming and that everyone will love.
With the feast that will go down on Thanksgiving, crab makes for a great light meal prior to the day of plenty. It also cuts out at least one run to the grocery store--online delivery of fresh cooked Dungeness crab will bring the shellfish right to your door. I spend more than half of Thanksgiving in the kitchen, but cooking crab for dinner the night before lets me spend more time at the table.
Southeast Asian-Style Stir-Fried Crab
Stir-fried crab may sound like an unlikely preparation, but it’s great with a salty-sweet Southeast Asian-style sauce. Be prepared to get your hands dirty. It’s worth it. Definitely get your crab cooked, cleaned and cracked to save the trouble and mess of doing it yourself at home.
This recipe serves 4-6 people. I serve it with rice noodles to soak up some of the sauce (grab some pad thai noodles or rice vermicelli from the international aisle of the grocery store). If you don’t have rice noodles--and can’t stomach going to the store yet again--plain, steamed, white rice makes an excellent foil for the sauce as well. As an accompaniment, I usually make a crunchy side salad of sliced carrots, cucumbers, persimmons and spinach tossed with rice wine vinegar, canola oil, and a few drops of soy sauce and sesame oil.
When it’s fresh, Dungeness crab is sweet and pleasantly briny. Ordering online from Daily Fresh Fish means it never sits in a display case--you order and we send it right to you, no middleman. You’ll get it the next day, freshly cooked, cracked and cleaned, if you order before 2 p.m. Let the season begin!