What more can I say about Dungeness crab, featured in this week’s A la Carte, except: Eat it. Now. It doesn’t get any better than wintertime in Oregon.
Most Oregonians worth their salt don’t need a reminder. That’s why the primary aim with this week’s story was to provide some new recipes and highlight the new fishing co-op, Port Orford Sustainable Seafood, which is marketing its products toward the local and sustainable foods movement.
Of course, crab, as the story mentioned, is among the most sustainable fisheries, yet another reason to favor it. But unlike most seafood that has practically become a convenience product, eating crab will take a little more effort than ripping open a frozen, vacuum-sealed pouch.
Crab is a notoriously bad keeper, which makes it unsuited to the off-season storage that has become typical of so many other ocean species. Happily, the crab season is long, so there’s lots of time to enjoy it and to make some calls if you have to figure out where to get it in the Rogue Valley.
Most crab you’ll encounter inland, particularly in grocery stores and even from Port Orford Sustainable Seafood, is already cooked. But cooking your own is the gold standard in crab. A piece by Jan Roberts-Dominguez with the online version of this week’s story explains how.
Fresh and live crab can be claimed at The Wharf Fresh Seafood Market & Eatery in Medford. Call 541-858-0200 to check their supply. Or call Michael Cooper at Rogue Valley Fresh Seafood Co., 541-944-7519, and put in an order. He says he makes a trip to Bandon and brings crab back a few times per week.
Aaron Longton of Port Orford Sustainable Seafood plans to bring crab to the Grants Pass Growers Market Saturdays starting next month and the Hillcrest Growers and Craft Market Fridays starting in June. But as with any seasonal product, availability isn’t a guarantee, he says.
Once you go to all that trouble to get your crab, make the most of it. Just make sure you do that within a few days. Cracking the crabs open and dipping their meat in savory sauces is the purest way to enjoy them. Crab Louis salads are another obvious use. But once a couple such meals have been served, some variety is appreciated.
Consider the recipes with this week’s story or try one of my family favorites, Creamy Crab and Egg Bake, which does double duty for breakfast and dinner and is perfect for brunch. This dish takes its uniqueness from flavors of horseradish and Worcestershire sauce. The leftovers keep a good day in the refrigerator, and all you need to do is toast more English muffins for serving.
Creamy Crab and Egg Bake
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1⁄4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup half-n-half
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
6 hard-cooked eggs
1 pound cooked crab meat, divided
2 teaspoons chopped chives
1⁄2 cup soft bread crumbs
12 English muffins, for serving
Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Stir for 1 minute until mixture is golden and bubbly.
Reduce heat and add the milk, half-n-half, salt, pepper, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring, until thickened.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise and scoop yolks into a medium bowl, reserving whites. Mash yolks with a fork and add 1⁄4 cup of the crab meat, 1⁄4 cup prepared sauce and the chives. Mix thoroughly and spoon mixture into egg whites, using all yolk mixture.
Arrange filled eggs in a shallow baking dish and scatter remaining crab meat evenly over top. Pour remaining sauce over eggs and crab.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and combine with the bread crumbs. Sprinkle bread crumbs over casserole and bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until hot and bubbly.
Meanwhile, split the English muffins in half and toast halves. Butter toasted muffins, if desired. Serve casserole on toasted muffin halves, with an egg half on each muffin.
Makes 6 servings.