The Pacific Northwest is home to many delicacies, perhaps none more famous than the Pacific Coast Dungeness Crab. This well-loved, bright-orange crab is prized for its sweet, succulent meat and it’s ability to turn even the simplest of dishes into something memorable.
Off the coast of Washington Dungeness Crab seasons can be year round, and in waters of the Puget Sound the season is typically from October 1 through December 31 although there can be shorter seasons during the summer. When crab season is open in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll see dozens of boats on the water dropping their pots for this highly sought-after crab.
Below I have put together a smorgasbord of Dungeness crab recipes that were created from my passion for local Washington state seafood. Paired with wines from California and Oregon, I hope that these recipes will inspire you to create a meal with Dungeness Crab as the star.
Before I dive into the Dungeness Crab recipes and wine pairing I invited you to read more about this Pacific Northwest seafood staple here, on the PNW Crab Research Group website and discover more recipes on the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission’s website.
Fun Fact: The Dungeness crab gets its name from the town of Dungeness, Washington, which is now called Old Town Dungeness.
Every October brings the annual Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival held in Port Angeles, WA where Admission is always Free!
One more quick note if you are interested in Preparing Fresh Crab for these recipes you can find some great instructions on the William Sonoma Website.
I also wanted to share that some of my inspiration for the following recipes came from watching episodes of The Lost Kitchen, a show that I am not ashamed to say I have watched multiple times. I appreciate Erin French’s style and her desire to source locally grown fruits and vegetable as well as meat and seafood that can be found in her home state of Maine.
The Lost Kitchen is a Magnolia Network program and can also be watched on HBO Max.
Rich and creamy soups have always been a love of mine, so on Season 1, Episode 1 of The Lost Kitchen, when Erin used the last of the season celery from a local farm to make a Cream of Celery soup with fresh crab my curiosity was instantly peaked. By late October, celery was the last remaining vegetable in my garden. Inspired to develop my own soup recipe, I instantly thought to incorporate fresh Dungeness Crab.
If you haven’t tried it before, the flavor of homegrown celery will delight and surprise you!
Celery often gets overlooked for flashier vegetables, like carrots and Swiss Chard, but disregarding celery can be a big mistake, especially fresh garden celery. Homegrown celery is much more fragrant than store bought and the crisp flavor is more intense, far better than the bland flavor you get from store bought celery. Once you start using garden celery you will quickly discover why it’s unique homegrown flavor has been used in recipes for centuries.
As common as celery is, it truly is a flavor enhancer and you’ll be amazed just how satisfying homemade cream of celery soup can be!
Fresh celery is the main produce of this recipe, but building flavor with other key ingredients bring a balanced depth to the soup. This recipe allows you to play with the quantity of these other ingredients to create a soup that is perfectly suited to your taste.
Along with celery this soup recipe incorporates shallots, confit (roasted) garlic, leeks, Yukon gold potatoes, fresh herbs, vegetable stock, and a little splash of cream. The starch in the Yukon gold potato thickens the soup and imparts its dreamy texture.
There is absolutely nothing better than getting elbow deep in fresh, shucked crab! For these recipes I purchased 3 fresh cooked crabs from our local market and the butcher removed the top shell and cleaned the crab for me before wrapping them up.
Fresh crab is amazing if you can find it, frozen crab meat is surprisingly tender, however, if possible I recommend avoiding canned crab, the sweet natural flavor is lost in the canning process.
A couple of tips: Be sure to season the soup generously with salt and pepper, sampling often to adjust to your taste and puree the soup to your desired level of consistency. If you prefer it super silky, strain it through a sieve after you puree, I really enjoyed the soup with some texture and recommend trying before straining to suit your palate.
Croutons are always a nice option to add to soup. I opted to make Potato Croutons for the Cream of Celery Soup as a great way to add some extra texture.
All you need is 1 pound peeled russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes. Soak in water for 10 minutes, then dry the cubes.
Add 1 tablespoon butter, melted and 2 tablespoons olive oil to a small skillet and turn on medium-high.
Sprinkle the potato cubes with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fry the cubes in batches until golden brown on all sides. Place potato croutons on a rack inside of a baking sheet to allow the excess oil to drip off and keep warm in an oven set on the lowest temperature.
The flavors of this celery soup are delicious, yet not over-powering which allows the delicate clean flavor of the fresh crab to be enjoyed with each bite.
Cream of Celery soup with Dungeness crab is creamy, luscious and oohhhh so comforting! It is great for a light dinner or work week lunch especially as the weather cools down.
One way to elevate a light dinner of Cream of Celery soup is to pair it with a wine that pairs well with it’s earthy flavors.
This Seven Springs 2021 Pinot Noir from Evening Land Vineyards was an ideal choice to enhance the flavors of the soup while bringing some brightness to the hearty meal that was supplied by the fried potatoes and crab.
If you prefer white wine with this Cream of Celery Soup, it would also pair beautifully with a nice Oregon Chardonnay or White Pinot Noir.
2021 Seven Springs Pinot Noir: An instantaneous impression of naturalness and elegance greets you with this Evening Land Vineyards Pinot. Bright fruit, fennel, cinnamon and notes of vanilla cola are the first welcoming aromas in this wine with fragrances of zesty orange, white pepper, spice, earth and a note of minerality following. Silky fine tannins set the stage for the ripe dark and slightly tart fruit on the palate. The earthy flavor rhythm of the Pinot and the integrated layers of savory spice mingling with balanced acidity make it a wine that you will return to again and again.
This wine had me reminiscing about a trip last summer to the Willamette Valley and really spurred a conversation with my husband about all of the nuances found it each sniff and sip. It is one of those Oregon Pinot Noirs that you can really get lost in.
On The Lost Kitchen, Season 1, Episode 6, Erin prepared an appetizer of fried delicata squash rings filled with pear, dried cherries, feta cheese and arugula. The fried delicata squash rings got me thinking about how good they would be stuffed with Dungeness crab.
I rarely grow squash in my backyard garden because of the limited space. However, after making this recipe I am seriously considering giving Delicata Squash a permeant location in my backyard garden.
For this recipe I selected a small long delicata squash that would give me the two bit size rings that would be perfect to stuff with my crab mix.
I combined three different recipes to build this scrumptious bit that can be served as an appetizer or as a side dish. While this dish takes a tad more work, the payoff is pure, flavorful bliss.
These delicious salty fried capers were on Season 2, Episode 3 of The Lost Kitchen. They are incredibly easy to make and will add a wow factor to a number of dishes.
I made the fried capers first because they did not need to be warm when placed on top of the fried squash rings and crab.
I simply followed the directions for mixing tempura batter and soda water found on the back on the box. I dropped the capers into the batter and then as carefully as possible I dropped the capers one at a time into some hot vegetable oil. The capers only take a minute or two to fry so you have to work quickly. Remove the capers from the oil and place on a paper towel. Voilà, magical flavor bombs!
The foundation of this recipe starts with Erin French’s recipe (From the Today Show) Fried Squash Rings (although this recipe also includes Pear, Dried Cherries and Feta, I followed only the directions for the fried rings). I am in love with these doughnut like gems.
First I baked the delicata squash as the recipe directed and before I fried them I put my crab stuffing in the oven. Once the crab stuffing was done baking I assembled them by placing the crab stuffing in each dried ring and topping it with the fried capers.
Adding fresh lemons to the plates to squeeze on lemon juice just before eating will bring all the flavors together in these crab filled bites.
Whether you’re planning this as a starter for a dinner party, or just an indulgent weekend lunch this is a dish that would pair well with a number of white wines including Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. For this pairing I wanted to try something a little different, a Fiano which is a classic white grape from Southern Italy. This 2019 Fiano from Cruess Wines however come from the Bowland Vineyard, a pristine one and half acre vineyard in Russian River Valley.
The 2019 Fiano is one of those ‘whispering wines’, a wine that tells its story softly and gently builds up its flavors as the story unfolds. Surprisingly rich with a crisp brightness and a great tangy acidity this is a wonderful food wine. On the nose and palate you get honey soaked lemon syrup that is fold into a creamy tropical fruit mousse dusted with salted pistachios.
This unique wine was my first introduction to Cruess Wines and now I can’t wait to try some of their other wines.
I invite you to visit Cruess’s Website to learn more about this California winery.
I think that the perfect home-style dish that make you feel like you’re in the Pacific Northwest with the first bite has to be Dungeness Crab Cakes. Homemade Crab Cakes are a treat for any occasion, they are great as an appetizer, a decadent lunch or a perfect light dinner with a roasted beet salad.
Crab Cakes are legendary here in the PNW and I hope that this Dungeness Crab Cake Recipe pays homage to the main ingredient.
Homemade Crab Cakes are better than restaurant versions because they are loaded with fresh lump crab meat. I love this crab cake recipe because it has some extra flavor from the vegetable fillers that compliment the Dungeness crab and is seasoned to perfection.
Important Ingredient: Old Bay Seasoning is classic with crab and seafood. It can be found in the spice section of the grocery store (and may also be near the seafood department). If you aren’t able to find it locally, you can also get old bay seasoning online.
Cooks Tip: 2 Dungeness crabs can typically yield 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds of crab meat.
Herb Spiced Aioli – Simply combine of 1/2 cup mayo, 1 Tbsp slightly spicy Provencal Dijon mustard from Edmond Fallot, 1 tsp lemon zest, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 1 smashed roasted garlic clove and 2 tsp each of minced fresh chives, fresh thyme and minced fresh parsley. This recipe is simple and an excellent addition to the Dungeness Crab Cakes.
For the side Roasted Beet Salad I used the recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen blog, Beet Salad with Arugula and Balsamic Vinaigrette, found here. My only changes were I roasted the beets in the oven, I used a Shallot Salt in place of regular salt and I did not add dried cranberries.
Can’t you just taste them! Oh My Goodness. There is nothing like Pacific Northwest Dungeness Crab Cakes!
Food Pairing Advice: When it comes to food and wine pairings I think that best advice that someone can give is to “Eat what you want and drink what you want”. Along the way you will find combinations that work for you and you will build up your own guidelines along the way that will increase your chances of creating magical noteworthy matches.
Because Albariño can be such a delightful warm or cool weather wine and it pairs exceptionally well with seafood. I chose this 2019 Ragtag Wine Co. Albariño to pair with the Dungeness Crab Cakes. Once you start tasting different Albariño wines you fill begin to notice the mineral-like aroma, the flavor of seashore and salt air along with a crisp acidity that will guide you in pairing this wine with a number of dishes brimming with seafood flavors.
Ragtag Wine Co. 2019 Albariño:
Produced five miles from the Pacific Ocean in Morro View Vineyard, located in the center of Edna Valley’s rolling hills this Albariño has an inviting light body and crisp aromas and flavors of concentrated mixed stone fruit and pineapple. Kissed by the ocean this wine has that classic mineral note and a long acid driven finish that makes it enjoyable to sip both alone or as a companion to a meal. I highly recommend you seeking out this wine from Ragtag, it is really an exceptional.
You can discover more about Ragtag Wine Co. and the wines that they offer on their Website.
“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces—just good food from fresh ingredients.”-Julia Child
I hope you enjoy this collection of Dungeness crab recipes and that they not only satisfy your seafood cravings but that you share them with others. If you try any of the recipes please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.
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