I love this dish! The idea of crab braised in a tomato sauce brings to mind so many cultures and international cities. Not only is it an Italian tradition, but Dungeness crab is also quintessentially Seattle!
The concept of Dungeness crab braised in a rich tomato sauce reminds me of eating Singaporean Chili Crab on the eastern shore while listening to the crystal blue waves crash on the beach, a beautiful memory during winter in Seattle! This dish is like a celebration, so put the time into it and don't rush it. It's worth it! Savor it!
- 1 whole Dungeness crab - 11/2 to 2 pounds, freshly steamed, cleaned and cracked (you can do this yourself or have your fishmonger pre-crack it for you)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 28-ounce can tomato purée or crushed tomatoes
- 1 8-ounce bottle tomato juice
- 1-ounce fresh garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1pound fresh spaghetti (if you don't have fresh pasta, dried pasta also works well)
1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat until the oil is hot.
2. Add garlic and quickly sauté, then add the tomato juice and the pureed or crushed tomatoes.
3. Add the cracked crab that is still in the shell, but be sure to remove and throw away the "deadman's" fingers first.
4. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the sauce has reduced slightly, occasionally stirring, which can take about 1 hour — season to taste with salt and pepper.
5.While the sauce is cooking, place a large pot of salted water on high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain the spaghetti and return it to the large pot.
6. Using tongs, transfer the crab that is still in the shell to a platter.
7. Add the sauce to the spaghetti and mix well. While the spaghetti is hot, divide it into large bowls and serve it.
8. Pass the cooked crab on the side, or place it in the refrigerator to eat chilled at another meal. Garnish with a gentle dusting of chopped parsley.
Notes: Twelve Blue Crabs can be substituted for the Dungeness crab. Make sure to have the Blue Crabs cleaned by the fishmonger. Place a large skillet on high heat and add three tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, start to cook the crab in batches. Make sure to cover the crabs because they will "spit" at you as they cook. Continue sautéing while occasionally turning the crabs and until the shells turn red, which should take about 5 minutes. It is more challenging to pull the meat from the smaller Blue Crab shells. Even if you don't eat the crab, they will also add a nice layer of flavor to the sauce.
If you're feeling extra "crabby," you can also add an eight-ounce refrigerated and pasteurized can of lump crab, which can be purchased at your local grocery store.