Dungeness crab have been commercially harvested in Washington since 1848. It’s from there that Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) get their name – Dungeness, Wash., which is a small fishing village near the entrance of Puget Sound.
Dungeness crab season traditionally runs from October through July, with the commercial fishing season typically opening in the Pacific Northwest and continuing later (November/December) in California. It’s a very cyclical fishing season, with landings ranging from three million pounds to 31 million pounds of crab over the last 10 years.
Details about fisheries management can be found at the following:
Dungeness crab have several markers that differentiate them from other crabs. The prominent top side of the shell is a light reddish-brown color with hints of purple towards the low backside of the shell. You’ll also find some lighter, sporadic spots and streaks along the top shell. Compared to other crab, the underside of a Dungeness crab is a lighter orange or almost white color with slight indications of purples.
You can also identify a Dungeness crab by the claws and pincers. The pincers are white tipped while other crab species typically have black tipped pincers. As you look closer, you can see several saw-toothed teeth along each pincer.
How to Prepare
Kitchen preparation of Dungeness crab is typically minimal in order to preserve the authentic, delicious character. They can be served chilled after steaming. Or, you could enjoy them after steaming with warm drawn butter, sauté them in garlic or feature these steamed crustaceans in a warm bowl of cioppino.