If you're at Pillar Point RV Park, you gotta have it.

While there are restaurants nearby that will be happy to take your money, there's nothing like going to the harbor during crab season and getting them fresh, caught that day off the boats.

Some of you may be experts at this, but for those who aren't, here's how to crack, clean and cook a fresh crab according to our friends, John and Irene, from the fishing vessel, the Irene Marie, located in the Pillar Point Harbor.

Cooking: Live crabs are boiled in plain or in the seasoned water of your choice until the crab changes from their natural color to red.

A whole crab can be steamed or boiled.   If steaming, just drop the live crab into a steamer basket that is over rapidly boiling water.  Steam for 15 minutes.

If you'd like to steam the crab in pieces, grab the crab from the rear, firmly holding 1 or 2 legs on either side.  Place the crab with its back down on a cutting board.  Position a sharp, heavy knife with the blade down, in the direct center of the crab between the claws.  Using a mallot or hammer, hit the back of the knife with a hard quick blow.   This will kill the crab instantly.

If you'd rather boil your crab, fill a large pot 2/3rds full with water. Add 2 tbsp of salt and bring to a boil.  Depending on the size of your pot, you may cook several crab at the same time.   Cover, return to boil and simmer 15 minutes.

Upon the completion of cooking time, remove the boiled crabs and place into a slush ice. This procedure stops the cooking process and also makes the meat more easy to remove from the shell.


Fill pot with water, add 2 tbsp salt, 1 large lemon quartered, 1" ginger in 1/8th inch slices, 1/2 cup of white vinegar.  Bring to a boil and add the crab (s)...cook for 15 minutes.

Cleaning your crab

1.  Remove the abdomen with your fingers. (also called the apron) It is the flap of shell on the underside of the crab.

2.  Remove the outer shell (the back or carapace) of the crab by sticking your thumb into the hole left by removing the abdomen and lift up firmly.

3.  The shell will detach from the body with some guts attached.

4.  Remove and discard the leaf-like, spongy gills from each side of the body.

5.  Rinse out the greenish brown guts.  Break off and discard the mouth parts on the front of the crab.

6. Turn the crab upside down, grip it on either side and place your thumbs underneath near the midline on the back where the shell used to be.

7.  Push up with your thumbs and pull down with your hands.  The crab will crack easily along its center line.

8.  Pick over the body meat carefully to remove all bits of shell and transparent membrane. 

Your crab is ready to steam or boil!
Serve your crab hot or cold.


Dungeness crab is named after a small fishing village on the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Washington state, named, Dungeness.

Total west coast production ranges from 35-55 million lbs. annually.

An average of 25% of a Dungeness crab's weight is edible "meat", making it one of the meatiest crabs available.

A crabs teeth are in their stomach.

If a crab loses a limb it will grow back.

Live Dungeness crabs are purple-brown in color, they don’t turn the bright orange color they are famous for until they are cooked.

Dungeness Crab is an excellent source of high-quality protein, containing all of the essential amino acids, while low in fat and calories.

You'll also find a rich supply of important minerals such as zinc, copper, calcium, magnesium and iron. It's a natural for health-conscious customers.

When buying crab:

A spongy shell indicates that a crab has recently molted, or shed it’s shell and has less meat.

The livelier the better when dealing with live crab. A dead crab often has a bitter aftertaste due to its own digestive juices permeating the meat.

Lively crab stay alive longer, up to 18 hours from the time you take them from a crab tank.

To find out the day’s catch, call Pillar Point Harbor, (650) 726-8724, ext.3.

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