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How to Cook Crab

We’re out in Tofino (on the furthest west coast of Vancouver Island) for summer vacation, which means plenty of fresh seafood — rock shrimp, halibut, salmon, and crab —which we can catch ourselves. Our years of summering out here have meant honing our crab catching (hot dogs make the best bait — seriously) and cooking skills. There is no better meal on a hot August day with plenty of family and friends (and cold beer and napkins) around the dinner table.

There are rules, of course, about catching crab — make sure you check out the regulations in your area. We caught some red rock crab, which my (grown-up) nephew killed and cleaned, or you could start with store-bought crab, live or not. We prefer not to cook them alive when there’s a large group to feed, as they take up too much space in the pot. Besides, cleaned crab halves won’t produce quite as much gunk as they steam. Rinse them under cool running water to get rid of any sandy grit.

Get out your biggest pot and put a few inches of water (some people use seawater to keep things authentic) into the bottom. (Alternatively, fill the pot 3/4 full— we often do it this way, depending on who fills the pot.) Bring it to a boil, add your crab (whole or halved and cleaned), cover and cook for 7-8 minutes per pound.

Remove from the pot with tongs and serve with crab crackers, long pointy forks, plenty of melted butter and lots of napkins. Crab also goes well with new potatoes, corn and crusty bread — all vehicles for that melted butter. Happy August!

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