Dungeness Crab Cancer magister (order: Decapoda of the class Crustacea)

Dungeness Crab are native to the western shores of North Americam from Alaska to Baja Mexico, and are one of the widley consumed crabs in the world. They are brown or purple in color and range from 7 to 9 inches in width at maturity. They have prominent foreclaws and eight thick legs. They are harvested in North America from December 1st till August 15th with only the male crabs, with a width of 6.5 inches of greater being kept for consumption. The average annual harves is 38 Million lbs.

Now that you have a few facts i will tell you of my "crab cooking adventure" I live in Portland, Oregon , it's about an hour from the Oregon coast and live Dungeness Crab is pretty much ceaply availible year-round. I purchased four very alive crabs for dinner. The seafood merchant packed them in a paper bag which they then wrapped in another plastic bag. once the bag was closed the crabs stopped moving and I didn't think much of it. I stuck the bag in the bottom shelf of the fridge, figuring the cold might slow them down a little bit, or maye they'd suffocate in the bag.

My guests arrrived for the "crab feast" (my guests being my brother and my father), and we pull the bag out (I had a big pot of water boiling ahead of time). We look in and see some small signs of movement, signifying that the crabs are indeed, still alive. I reached in with a pair of tongs, grabbed one and lifted him out of the bag. Oh yeah, they were VERY alive but I got the first one in the pot no problem. The second one was a little bit harder, but to his scalding grave the shelled delicacy went. The remaining two crabs left in the bag now were aware of what the game was, they decided they wouldn't come quietly.

My brother grabbed the tongs and the deadly game of cat and mouse was on (ok it wasn't that deadly, but "the game of human and crab where the man might get a nasty nip, but the crab is certainly going to die" didn't seem to have the correct dramatic edge). My brother (in his trash-talking glory) taunted the crab, hitting it with the tongs and trying to flip it over, or turn it arround in order to pick it up from behind. Paper tore, plastic stretched and eventually my brother prevailed. However the last, remaining crab had learned from it's forebearer. Twin foreclaws gripped the remining paper and plastic with unearthly strength, a small tug-o-war ensued before the bag tore and all that was left was a not-so-small crab gripping a scrap of brown paper. Holding aloft his defeated foe my brother dunked the remaining crab into the boiling pot forever ending the clawed menace. And enjoying tasty, flaky meat slathered in butter.

The Dungeness crab got its name from the town of Dungeness, Washington, where it was first harvested; in fact, it was the first commercially harvested shellfish on the North Pacific coast.

Here are some other Dungeness crab factoids:

So, essentially, every year people spend from 26 to 80 million dollars on crab exoskeleton and entrails. The rest of the beast is awfully tasty, though.

Thanks to Northwest Harvest for all of this information except the bit about the entrails being horrible. That I learned from experience.

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