Why is Dungeness crab such a prized seafood in the Pacific Northwest? That’s easy! Not only is Dungeness one of the most readily found crabs along our coastline, it’s delicious, too.
Dungeness crab, also known as Metacarcinus magister, makes its home in the muddy or sandy stretches of the ocean floor and is often found in shallower estuaries. These crabs are easy to identify, too, with their signature white claws and their reddish-brown bodies.
Commercial and recreational crabbers usually sink crab pots into the coastal waters where crabs like to live. Crabbers must adhere to catch limits set by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. For harvest, only males are allowed and only those of a certain size – 5¾ inch or larger. Crabbing season usually runs from December to August. It takes minimal equipment and a license from the ODFW to go crabbing recreationally, but if the activity is not your thing, there are plenty of other options for enjoying fresh crab.
Pack a cooler for take-home treats
You may prefer to visit a local fishmonger to purchase fresh crabs, especially during the peak season for consumers, December through April. More than 400 boats work along the Oregon coast to catch Dungeness crabs during the season. Newport harbor, just to the north of Yachats, is one of Oregon’s six major fishing ports, with several fishmongers to visit on Bay Boulevard.
Here in Yachats, one of our favorite local fish markets is Luna Sea Fish House, in business for more than 10 years and featuring fisherman Robert Anthony’s fresh catches. Follow your fishmonger’s advice on how to keep crabs their freshest for their trip home. It’s definitely a culinary event to steam fresh crabs and then crack open the shells to extract their unctuous meat. Serve it with melted butter and fresh lemons for a simply delightful feast.
Dine out for delicious crab
Some of our area’s best Oregon Coast restaurants serve Dungeness crab in a variety of delicious preparations. Not to be missed is Ona Restaurant in Yachats, which makes its signature crab cakes with Dungeness crab. Ona also serves Dungeness crab as a side dish. The Drift Inn in Yachats serves tasty crab cakes, too.
Just up the road from Yachats in Waldport is the Hilltop Cafe-Bistro, where diners will find a cheesy Dungeness crab melt to rave about. And Local Ocean Seafoods in Newport not only features a fresh fish market, but also presents diners with an excellent atmosphere and menu, where Dungeness crab is the star in crab cakes, crab soup and the crab po’ boy sandwich.
Dungeness crab season in Oregon is not to be missed!