The easiest Dungeness Crab recipe
There is a magic moment, usually in mid-November, when my Australian friend, Leanne Sarasy will call and say, “Come for dinner…we have crab!” Yesterday it was a text and I canceled any plan I had because the first oven roasted Dungeness crab of the season is truly close to a religious experience. (And, of course, let us not forget that crab, along with all other fruits of the sea, are considered the playthings of Aphrodite and a conduit to games of love.)
If you’re not familiar with Dungeness crab, it’s a variety of hard-shelled crab popular on the West Coast. In fact, it is the most abundant crab in the state of California. And it’s popular with both commercial and recreational fishermen.
Leanne’s husband, Brian, is an avid fisherman and hunter so there is always something good in her kitchen from the land or sea. She is a magnificent chef, having cooked on board yachts around the world for years. I always say…give her four ingredients and she can make a three-course meal. She’s a culinary genius.
Why make oven roasted Dungeness crab?
Crab in this household is not just boiled or steamed. It may start steamed but then Leanne tosses it in aphrodisiacs including fresh garlic, chili flakes, Italian parsley, preserved lemons (or fresh) butter and olive oil. Then she sprinkles it with more parsley and garlic on top and throws it in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
How to serve crab
Is there anything sexier to eat than fresh crab? Cracking it and tearing it apart with your hands, then stabbing it with the little seafood skewer or simply prying it out of its shell with your fingers. You’ll want to line your table with newspaper or butcher paper. Then you can just dump the pile of crabs in the middle and let every man grab for himself. It’s messy, delicious and always memorable.
This Oven Roasted Dungeness Crab preparation doesn’t even call for clarified butter in which to dip the crab flesh. It doesn’t need it! But you know what it does need? Plan on many napkins!
Once you try your crabs oven roasted, you'll never boil them again!
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 clove garlic finely chopped (divided
- 1 tbsp Italian parsley finely chopped (divided)
- 1 tsp chili flakes more or less to taste
- juice of 1 fresh lemon
- Preheat oven to 350
- Combine the butter and olive oil in a small dish. Add half the garlic, half the parsley, the chili flakes and lemon juice.
- Put the crab (or crabs) on a sheet pan and coat with the butter and olive oil mixture. Top with the remaining garlic and parsley.
- Cook for 16-22 minutes. (The cooking time will vary slightly based on how many crabs you’re cooking. For 1-2 crabs, check for doneness after 16 minutes.
Plan on one 2-pound(ish) Dungeness crab for each diner as a main course. Half a crab per person works as an appetizer. However, if you're feeding a crowd, you may want to roast a few extra crabs as these crabs are hard to resist!
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