Lobster claws and Dungeness crab legs with lime slices
What Makes Dungeness Crab Unique
How They're Caught
Dungeness crabs are named for Dungeness, Washington, where people first began catching them using crab pots, which are large baited traps made with wire.
The difficulty is that Dungeness crabs live about 300 feet under the ocean's surface, so hauling them back up once the crab pots are full can be dangerous.
Moreover, Dungeness crab season runs from November through the winter, meaning that crab fishers have to perform their jobs in dangerous weather conditions.
How They Taste
Dungeness crab has a nutty sweetness balanced by a hint of briny saltiness for a delicate flavor that shines with minimal additions.
The claws, legs, and body are all edible, each offering large chunks of tasty meat, although the legs are slightly saltier than the claws, which are a bit sweeter.
How They're Cooked
The most common way to cook crab is to place a whole, live crab into a pot of salted, boiling water for about seven minutes, making sure not to overcook it.
Once cooked, clean it by removing the gills, mandible, and carapace, and serve with lemon and butter. You can also use frozen, pre-cooked crab and heat it in boiling water.
How They're Stored
A crab can stay alive for up to eight hours in a ventilated cooler with salt water, or for about a day in the fridge if you occasionally open the door.
Avoid eating fresh crab more than an hour after it dies as its meat may become toxic. Once cooked, crab can be kept in the fridge for three days or freezer for up to a year.
How They're Bought
Aside from catching it yourself, you can get Dungeness crab at your local seafood purveyor or online from various seafood vendors.
A 2-pound, living crab will cost between 24 and 45 dollars, but only ¼ of that weight is edible meat. You can also buy pre-cooked, frozen crab, or just crab meat by itself.