Fresh Dungeness Crab with Spicy Sauce | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Fresh Dungeness Crab with Spicy Sauce

In-season crab is delicious served cold with a squeeze of lemon and a simple sauce

Tis the season! You may have noticed lately that Dungeness crab is on sale at local markets. Known for its sweet meat, this large crab is harvested on the Pacific coast from Mexico up to Alaska and is in season now.

If you’re a lover of this hard-shelled crustacean you may already have your favorite ways to eat and prepare it. If you’re new to the crab game, here are a few tips to help you get going and inspire you to try some of this delicious seafood.

Fresh Dungeness Crab with Spicy Sauce
Donna Britt Photo
Dungeness crab is in season now and delicious served cold with lemon juice and a simple sauce.


First off, whole crabs are sometimes available live, but because crab needs to be cooked within 12 hours of harvesting, typically what you get from the seafood case at the grocery store is already cooked. You can tell it’s cooked by the color of the shell; it will be bright red or orange if the crab is cooked. Two to three whole crabs should give you enough meat for two people. Keep the crabs cold in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

You have to work to get the crab meat out of the shell but you can make that part of the experience and it’s definitely worth the effort. First, cover your counter with old newspaper (old copies of the Source Weekly is always a popular choice) or a washable tablecloth and grab a mallet or hammer and a seafood fork or a wooden skewer. Grab a crab and rip off the top shell. You’ll see the gills and innards and all kinds of weird looking stuff. Pull that stuff out as you don’t want to eat the viscera, also known as the internal organs, butter or guts. You could eat it but it may contain domoic acid which, according to my research, you shouldn’t eat.

Once you’ve ripped off the top shell, break the crab into two halves right down the middle using your hands. You can use the seafood fork or wooden skewer to pull out the meat in the top of each half.

Pull the claws off next, breaking them at the knuckles. Use your mallet or hammer to gently crack the claws. Again, using your hands and fingers, pull the shell pieces off to get to the claw meat. There are all kinds of YouTube videos that show exactly how to crack crab, if you’re more of a visual learner.


You can save the crab carcasses and shell pieces to use for seafood stock. Just put it all into a plastic bag and toss it in the freezer until ready to use.

Once you’ve picked out all that sweet meat, you can eat it plain or squeeze some lemon juice on it. You can dip it in cocktail sauce or make a simple remoulade sauce for it. You can use the meat in crab cakes or serve it atop a grilled steak or salad.

Here’s a recipe for a quick dipping sauce. Try a dollop of it on top of a piece of crab meat on a saltine cracker. So easy and so satisfying.

Spicy Crab Sauce

Makes a little over 1 cup of sauce

-1 cup mayonnaise

-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

-Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon

-1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley or cilantro

-1 tablespoon hot sauce

-2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-2 teaspoons capers, chopped

-1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

-1 teaspoon paprika

-1 green onion, finely chopped

-Pinch of kosher salt

-Dash of cayenne pepper, optional

In a small bowl, mix together mayo, Dijon, lemon juice, parsley, hot sauce, mustard, garlic, capers, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, green onion, salt and cayenne pepper if using. Let sit for 1 hour before serving. Store in refrigerator for up to a week.

About The Author

Donna Britt

Food writer, food stylist, recipe tester, cookbook editor, podcast producer/host are a few of the creative hats Donna Britt wears. Donna loves to hike, paddle board and spend quality time with family and friends. Oh, and she also collects cookbooks and cast iron cooking vessels.
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