Seattle is a seafood town, and with the kickoff of crab season on July 1, it was time for the Seattle Kitchen staff to talk crab feeds. (AP Photo/file)
Seattle is a seafood town, and with the kickoff of crab season on July 1, the Seattle Kitchen staff thought it was time to talk crab feeds.
The first rule of crab feeds, according to host Tom Douglas, is to get one crab per person.
"I would say if you're having a crab feed, one crab per person should be the minimum," says Tom. "We have weighed it out, a two and half to three pounds crab yields you, if you pick all the meat [...] it yields you less than 6 ounces."
If you're pulling from the sea, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife describes the crab population this year as "abundant."
If you're not setting out your own pots, there's still plenty of good stuff at local markets.
When shopping for crab, co-host Thierry Rautureau says he always goes live. Tom says he'll take live or cooked, but he always considers the vendor.
"I would never purchase a pre-cooked from somebody I didn't have confidence in because they could sit there for a week out there over ice without proper rotation," says Tom.
Even if it's live, he says make sure you buy it from somewhere with high turnover.
"If they're sitting in that tank for a week or two, they'll stay alive in those tanks for quite awhile. They don't eat in there, so all they're doing is getting thinner, and thinner, and thinner."
The hosts agree that the best way to find the right crab is to check out its weight.
"I'm looking for weight," says Thierry. "If you feel like there is lots of space inside, then it's obviously not as full of a crab, and you won't have as much meat."
"A heaviness in the shell suggests that it's moist and fresh and delicious," says Tom, who also recommends a smell test.
"The smell needs to be a smell that you recognize from the ocean," says Thierry.
There are many ways to cook crab, but Tom says he discovered a splendid eating advantage when he tested crab on the grill.
"I steamed it, broke it down into sections, put it on the wood fire and just gave it that smoky char. And I got the shells so it actually burnt a little bit," says Tom. "When you get it to burn, they get crispy and they're much easier to break when you're cooking them."
If you love crab, but aren't interested in cooking it yourself, the Seattle Kitchen staff has plenty of recommendations for restaurants with excellent crab dishes.
Katie O suggests the crab at Sea Garden in the International District. She says that, even though she's tried, she just can't duplicate the taste of the crab with black bean sauce at home.
"They do a really great Dungeness crab there," says Katie.
Thierry and Tom also love Sea Garden, but Tom recommends Flying Fish.
"Flying Fish makes a nice salt and pepper crab," says Tom.
Bottom line, "There's lots of good crab around this town," Tom says.
Listen for more tips on cooking crab:
By JAMIE GRISWOLD, MyNorthwest.com Editor