Crabbing 101

I mentioned here that Baby E and I spent last week at my grandparent’s beach cabin. We had a blast and the food wasn’t too bad either. We are very lucky that the cabin sits right on the water so we have unlimited beach access, not to mention an endless supply of fresh seafood all summer long! There is nothing like having fresh Dungeness crab for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.

Over the years, we’ve tried hundreds of crab recipes everything from crab omelets to crab cakes and crab melts. I’ll share some of those recipes down the road but for today’s I want to take you on a behind the scenes tour of crabbing in the Pacific Northwest.

Step 1: Bait the pots and toss ‘em in the ocean. We generally throw them out in about 100ft of water. Let the pots sit out overnight or half a day…and wait.

crabbing, how to crabbing

Step 2: Time to see what we caught!

Pot #1- Crab=0 Starfish =1

Don’t let the beauty be deceiving… Starfish may be pretty to look at but they scare away all the crabs.

Pot #2- Crab=15+!!!

Look at all of those little guys…and gals.


Once you pull up the pot, the crabs get angry, and when I say angry I mean ANGRY! The claws come out and fights begin, both crab:crab and crab:crabber. Lots of claws are lost in the battles. Sometimes fingers too (ok, not really but there have been a few close calls).

If you are wondering if I have ever been pinched by one of those bad boys… YES! And it hurts BAD. If my brother wasn’t there to pull it off, that sucker would have taken my thumb off (Too bad, it would’ve made a good story).

Step 3: Sorting through the loot. There may be a lot of crabbies in there, but no we don’t get to keep them all. We have to throw back all of the little ones and the ladies so they can go make more babies.

Here’s a female crab, you can tell by the wide marking on its belly.

crabbing, female crab

Here’s a keeper. You can tell this is a male by the narrow marking on its belly.

crabbing, male crab

This little guy is too small so he goes back in.

crabbing, crab

Step 4: Put all the keepers in a bucket of salt water until you are ready to cook them.

crabbing, crab

Step 5: Cooking and cleaning the crab. To prepare the crabs we put them in boiling water until their shells turn an orange color. Once they are fully cooked we crack the bellies in half to clean the insides. Yummy.

Step 6: After all of that work, look at this spread! There is NOTHING like fresh Dungeness crab to top off a day at the beach.

crab, dungeness crab, fresh crab

Crab cocktail anyone?

crab cocktail, fresh crab

Serving suggestions for fresh crab:

– In my opinion, the best way to eat fresh crab is to dip it in a bowl of melted butter. Completely calorie free I swear ;)

–  If you want a healthier option, try squeezing fresh lemon on the crab. The citrus really brings out the flavor.

– And lastly, the traditional cocktail sauce.

Bon Appetite!

Linking To: Just Something I Whipped Up, Amaze Me Monday, Think Pink Sundays, Sunday Showcase Party, Sundae Scoop, Tip Me Tuesday


Taryn is the owner/editor of Design, Dining and Diapers, a lifestyle blog that focuses on DIY home decor, design, seasonal crafts, easy recipes and just being a mom! She is all about making things for less by upcycling thrift store finds and using what’s on hand. Taryn lives in the greater Seattle area with her husband, 3 year old daughter and 1 year old son.

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  1. says

    So funny-that is totally different than how we catch them near the Gulf in South Louisiana. They look about the same, though ours are blue. (Until you boil them.) We tie bait to a string and pull it back up with a crab on it and use a fish net to catch it. :)

  2. Raeanna says

    YUMMY!! I love crab! Funny, I just had some last night! Unfortunately I live in landlocked KY but one of these days I’ll live by the beach & catch my own crab!!! Loved the beachy crafts @ your grandparents beach cabin!! :)

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