Chefs in the Pacific Northwest have developed a reputation for their creative use of ‘local’ ingredients from the bounty offered up by both land and sea. Dishes featuring seasonal items, picked and harvested at their peak, have become a trademark. Oregon Dungeness figures prominently in this cuisine and is found on the menus of the state’s finest restaurants. Sometimes it’s straight from the shell, ‘crab feed’ style, with fresh slaw and crusty bread; or, as an ingredient accompanied with delicate sauces made with fresh herbs and spices to enhance a pasta-based dish. The light, sweet flavor of Dungeness meat works well in a traditional crab cake recipe. A crab cocktail comes alive with a zesty Chipotle Sauce. Dungeness serves up equally as an appetizer or an entrée, and lends itself to both ‘down home’ and white tablecloth cuisine.
Whole crab presentations can be accomplished with some simple preparations before serving that make cracking, on the plate, simple and fun. The cooked crab should be cleaned (gills & viscera removed) and the shell back washed out before placing back on the crab body. Preliminary cracking of the legs will make the ‘at the table’ experience that much easier. Bibs, plenty of napkins and a ‘shell bowl’ round out the setting and allow diners to get through a Dungeness with dignity.
Sections provide the ‘crab cracking’ experience and work well when served in combination with another item, combo style. They are a popular item at ‘seafood buffets’ where they can be served chilled or warm, depending on customer preference. Pre-scored ‘single legs’ and ‘cocktail claws’ round out the appetizer department and work nicely served chilled, with an attractive garnish and a simple dipping sauce.