Tip of the Week: Crab Recipes
Recently, I chatted with Oregon Fish and Wildlife Shellfish Manager, Matt Hunter about the remarkable success that sport fishermen are having when they go after Dungeness crab.
He explained that the crabbing in the Columbia River estuary had been exceptional this year.
“We’re seeing nearly a limit per person and when we don’t see a limit it’s because of weather or that people just don’t want their dozen crabs.”
The reason for this year’s remarkable catch rate?
“Well, the crabs molted in early summer so they’re coming off the molt and they’re hungry and looking for food. At this time of year there’s plenty of food: baitfish die offs, natural salmon spawning events so there is plenty of available to them.”
As we chilled our catch on ice, I asked Fick what he enjoyed most about the adventure that’s just off his front door step:
“Oh, it’s simple and everyone can be involved in it. It’s easy to catch a dozen crabs per person with lots of action for kids. And – you never really know until you pull the pot up what you got…you know and that is fun!”
It is a lot of fun and continues in the kitchen where Steve shares three of his favorite Dungeness crab recipes.
“You can do a lot of different things with crab meat – you can make a chowder, fritters, salads – sandwiches – so many different things. You can mix it with fettuccine, other seafood, so it’s very versatile.”
Recipe number one was new to me and called a “Stuffed Crab Sandwich”
Steve mixed one cup of grated swiss cheese with two cups of crab and added
one teaspoon each of Worcestershire sauce and lemon pepper before he mixed in on cup of mayo and half a cup of sliced olives.
The mixture was then stuffed into each half of a hollowed-out sandwich roll.
Steve then spread a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese across the top of each roll and slid the tray of sandwiches into a 375-degree oven for seven to ten minutes.
“This is a filling dinner,” he noted. “You need to be in the mood for something rich and robust – it works well on a cold winter’s night.”
While we waited on the sandwiches, it was time for recipe number two that Steve called the “Fick Crab Cakes.”
Steve began with a pound of crab meat – he added one egg, one cup of Panko, one cup of mayo and a couple of teaspoons of mustard – a generous cup of diced onions and a tablespoon of seafood seasoning followed and the ingredients were mixed and formed into small cakes.
The cakes were placed in a fry pan with a quarter inch of hot peanut oil with Steve’s words of caution:
“You don’t want to overcook these or you’ll get pieces of crab cardboard and that doesn’t taste too great.”
Fick’s recipe number three is called “Crab Louie Salad” and it is one of his favorite because he can make it as elaborate or as simple as he likes.
He insists, never ever hold back on the crab. He used it atop a bed of sliced lettuce and then again atop all of the ingredients.
Salad fixings include onions, cucumbers, celery, sliced olives, tomatoes, a sliced egg and a cup of shredded cheddar cheese.
“It’s a light meal,” he noted. “But it can be a heavier meal if you want it to be with the ingredients – especially the cheese.”
Our seafood feast was topped off too – with a glass of Oregon white wine (Fick prefers Pinot Grigio) and a local microbrew. The table was set for a couple of kings who volunteered as official “Getaway Food Tasters:” Jim Shores and Birt Hansen.
Each was eager to sample our efforts and offered their reviews:
“Excellent, excellent, excellent and what surprised me was so many ways to fix it,” said Shores. “The taste is something you don’t get in upper Minnesota where I come from, so let me say that and I love Oregon crab.”
Birt nodded in agreement and then with a chuckle he offered, “This all looks outstanding for Jim and me, but what are you guys going to eat? There won’t be any left over for you.”
It was a perfect way to round out a Dungeness crabbing adventure and then bring the day’s activity full circle: from the estuary to the dining table.
About the Author: Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.
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