Grilled Dungeness Crab
Note: Feel free to experiment. Chef Russ Moore changes the herbs, depending on what the crabs will be served with that day.
2 live Dungeness crabs
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 a star anise
1 dried chile, such as Espelette, chihuacle or ancho
1 handful each of parsley leaves, celery leaves, fennel fronds and spearmint, coarsely chopped
1. Fill a large stock pot with water, and bring it to a boil. Season the boiling water with plenty of salt. The water should be as salty as the sea. Boil the crabs for 14 minutes, starting the timer as soon as they go in the water. Cool the crabs in a refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
2. Pull the back shell off the crab. Scoop out the "crab butter," reserving it for another use, and discard the shell. Pull the gills off the crab, break the crab in half (this is easier than it sounds), rinse the halves quickly, then pat dry. Gently crack each section of shell with the back of a large knife or cleaver.
3. Brush the crab all over with olive oil; season with sea salt.
4. Gently toast the dry spices in a dry pan until fragrant. Grind in a spice grinder along with the chile.
5. Dust the crab generously with the spices. Sprinkle on the herbs. Some will fall off the crab, but try to get as much as possible to stick.
6. Over a hot grill, cook the crab for about 4 minutes per side. You will know it's ready to turn over when the shell begins to darken and herbs just begin to char.
7. Pull the crabs off the grill; cut into serving-size pieces by cutting between the legs and through the body. Serve with an herb mayonnaise or just by themselves.
-- Russ Moore, Camino