Dungeness crab

Thai tomato, coconut and Dungeness crab soup

Thai tomato, coconut and Dungeness crab soup

I had this tomato soup at a dinner party recently. My boss, Elliot, hosted at his place. It was a fun evening filled with good chat, many delectable savory dishes and lovely wine! Thank you Elliot for being such a good cook and host! I wanted to ask for the recipe but didn’t get the chance as I had to leave a bit early to take care of our bully Clarence.

A few days later while browsing one of the latest issues of Bon Appétit magazine I found the recipe. Yoo-hoo! But then I misplaced it. Turns out they posted it online.

This past weekend we had our friends Jasmine and Prof. T over for dinner. I wanted to awe not only them but Steven too with this flavorful Thai inspired soup. Jasmine said “this is gourmet eating,” which is exactly what I said when I dined at Elliot’s, and it is. This soup really entices your palate with fragrant sweet and sour flavors and silky, creamy textures without being heavy or dense. This is definitely something that I will make again. And since tomatoes are in season now, I am already thinking of experimenting with different heirlooms to change the color: yellow, chocolate, green zebra varieties? If you can’t find crab, I am sure shrimp, or even lobster would do.

Thai tomato, coconut and Dungeness crab soup

3 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch scallions–approx 6– chopped fine, white and dark green parts included
2 stalks of fresh lemon grass, tough outer layer removed, sliced thinly
1 Serrano pepper, seeds partially removed, minced
2½ lb ripe tomatoes
½ cup light unsweetened coconut milk
1½ tbsp fish sauce
Juice of one lime or more, depending on how sour you like it, plus some lime wedges for garnish
Juice of one orange
½ lb fresh Dungeness crab meat
Kosher salt
½ cup pea shoots
1 clove garlic smashed

Bring a saucepan full of water to a boil. Meanwhile using a paring knife make a cross incision at bottom of each tomato, and cut the woody top off. Place them in boiling water until skin begins to curl. Drain, let cool a bit, remove skins and cube them. Set aside.

Place 2tbsp olive oil, scallions and lemon grass in a sauce pan. Sauté until scallions wilt. Add tomatoes and cook for about 8 minutes, long enough to bring it to a boil. Add coconut, orange juice, fish sauce and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool down for few minutes.

Add remaining olive oil to a skillet, followed by garlic. Sauté until aromatic. Add fresh crab. Turn heat off and cook for a minute. Sprinkle with salt, discard garlic clove. Set aside

Using a stick blender, wiz soup until puréed and smooth. Stir in lime juice. Add salt and more lime juice, if needed. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with Dungeness crab meat and pea shots. Have lime wedges on the side for the table.

Michele from the blog That’s so Michelle made the same recipe. Check it out here.


Casquinha de siri is super popular in Brazil, mainly in coastal towns where you get fresh crab aplenty. Brazilian crabs are tiny compared to the gigantic Dungeness from the North American Pacific Rim. Really, they look more like blue crabs from the Northeastern U.S. Big or small, these sometimes scary but always amazing and tasty prehistoric creatures are the ticket for living the highlife. Check out this post to learn more about preparing live Dungeness crab. What an experience!

Dungeness crab casquinha de siri

Dungeness crab casquinha de siri

To make traditional Brazilian casquinha de siri, the crab is boiled, then the meat is extracted, seasoned and cooked, then stuffed back into the creatures’ shells and baked. We had some really good ones at Part.Alto restaurant in Vitória, Espírito Santo, Brazil on our last visit. It was hot, damn hot. The casquina de siri appetizer went perfectly with cold beer in this tropical summertime weather. (Wow! It has been a year already since we were there. How nice it would be to hang out by the beach, soaking up the Sun right about now, instead of enduring yet more cold rain!)

I have to thank Joumana from taste of Beirut for this trip down memory lane that this dish is evoking. Sometime ago, she commented on our blog that she had seen the dish somewhere and was excited about tasting it. Her description made my mouth water. So here it is!

I served it at our last dinner party before kitchen remodeling really starts. The crowd was extremely pleased. Since I used fresh frozen pre-cooked and cleaned Dungeness crabmeat, I didn’t have the shells to fill. That makes it look more stunning. Instead I used a glass baking dish. Perhaps not as cute, but the taste remains the same: incomparable. It was super fun having Jocelyn, Devin, JT and Chris for dinner. Thanks for the new, equally great memories.

Dungeness crab casquinha de siri

2lb fresh crabmeat (ours came from Sun Fat)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp colorau (anato powder)
½ green bell pepper
4 tbsp coconut milk
3 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt
Crushed red pepper
Black pepper
~4 tbsp bread crumbs
4 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped small
2 whole scallions, chopped
½ white onion, cut into small cubes
2 tbsp parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 400F.

Add olive oil to a pan on high. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic, colorau and bell pepper. Continue cooking for a minute or so. Add tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes until they start to dissolve. Add crabmeat, salt, red and black peppers and coconut milk. Bring everything to a vigorous boil. Turn off heat. Adjust flavors if necessary. Stir in scallions and bread crumbs just enough to soak up the juices in the pan. Transfer mix to glass dish. Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese and a bit more bread crumbs. Bake about 10 minutes or until top is golden. Serve!


live Dungeness crab

by Stevie on December 27, 2010

I love crab but rarely have it, especially at home. Recently we went to visit our friends, Whitney and Amie, at their home in San Jose. Aside from being real Paso Robles wine buffs, they also in the know about Dungeness crab. For dinner the night that we visited they got live crabs, boiled them, then served them with clarified butter. Whit made it sound so easy: just throw the beasts into boiling water and wait fifteen minutes. Of course, there’s the barbaric ripping apart of the crab to get to the tender meat part afterward, but usually that’s fun and you can let each individual diner handle his or her own.

So I thought, why not try this myself?

Silly me!

Dungeness crab

Dungeness crab

A few weeks later, we had a dinner party for some friends. I went to Sun Fat in the Mission and bought eight live crabs. Yeah, I know, eight is a lot! What makes it even more absurd is that Hegui thought that the crabs were too small and wanted to reject them for even larger monsters! (They were each about 1¾ pounds.) I’m glad that I ignored him as already these barely fit into my large aluminum steamer.

I looked up the directions for cooking these in the 1997 Joy of Cooking, my bible for all things traditional American in the kitchen. Incredibly, even though there were pages and pages about Atlantic blue crabs (which I adore!) they recommended buying frozen Dungeness! Can you believe it?!? The book suggests that the crab is too delicate to take home live, as if all readers of the Joy of Cooking are on the East Coast or something and nobody who ever read the book lives on the West Coast. Ridiculous.

I abandoned my Joy for the internet. There I found a helpful site that recommended boiling or steaming for fifteen minutes. So back to easy.

My live crabs were packed four each into paper grocery bags, which were then placed in plastic bags with handles and sort of tied off. I kind of worried that they might escape and start walking sideways all over my apartment and attack Clarence or something, but that didn’t happen. I let them chill on the balcony until I was ready since the fridge was full. It was a cold night. Then I asked one of the guests, Chris, who seemed to be the least squeamish, to help in the execution of the meal.

live Dungeness crab for sale at Sun Fat

live Dungeness crab for sale at Sun Fat

Chris and me keeping the lid on the pot of crab

Chris and me keeping the lid on the pot of crab

These things are alive!! My goodness!! They were all tangled up one with another and when they stretched out their terrible delicious arms they looked positively huge!! It was a challenge to stuff them into the steamer baskets. We both worried about being clawed as these were not banded. As it was, we had to boil two because we ran out of room in the large steamers. Chris and I held down the lid over the ill-starred crustaceans until they stopped trying to force their way out. Gruesome. It was an ugly scene.

Hegui was so traumatized that he refused to eat his crab. Nobody else had that problem. Eating the crab was super messy but really fun. We all crunched our way to crab-happiness with lots of red wine to wash it down. Hegui made that onion and lentil pilaf that’s so yummy to accompany the succulent crab, for a sort of surf-n-turf meal. I also served clarified butter.

I did have two leftover crabs. The next day I cleaned these and sautéed them in some butter and olive oil with some Italian breadcrumbs and sweet paprika and used the crabmeat as a layer in a cheesy tomato lasagna.

I had some disturbing crabby dreams that first night but I’ve gotten over it. Now I want to try fresh lobster!

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