I’m not sure I should tell you what I did this weekend because you’ll be so jealous. But I think I will anyways : D
After work on Friday we loaded up the truck, hit the road and didn’t look back. We were headed for Camano Island, a sweet little spot just an hour and a half north of Seattle, nestled between the mainland and Whidbey Island. When we got there we wasted no time and got down to business: we took a beach stroll and dropped the crab pots, then proceeded to enjoy Fat Tires and watch the sun set. We lazed around in the sun playing board games and eating ripe mangoes, chips and salsa, homemade pesto pasta salad, dribbly watermelon, and marionberry pie. We went on the boat to try inter-tubing, water skiing and knee-boarding. We stayed up late talking. And we ate crab.
My parents were friends in college with the owners of this cabin, so we have been going up there my whole life. Collecting sea shells and driftwood, making forts on the beach, and sitting around the fire are definitely highlights of the Camano Island cabin activities, but for me the main event has always been the crab. Loading the pots with chicken parts; the anticipation of seeing the big, feisty Dungeness crab in a bucket; cooking them in a huge pot of seawater flecked with seaweed; and the best part, cracking and crunching and prying and picking for the juicy, briny sweet meat. It’s messy and takes a little work, but like all the good things in life it’s well worth the effort.
Sadly, our vacation weekend came to an end. We packed up but didn’t leave empty handed, because even after a weekend of gorging on crab we still had four huge crabs to take home. Inspired by the beautiful Rainier cherries and plump mango I had, I threw together this Thai-flavored salad to go with the crab. The fresh mint and cilantro, crunchy cucumber and carrot, and perfectly ripe cherries and mango play off the sweet crab meat beautifully. A simple sauce of soy, rice wine vinegar, chili garlic paste, brown sugar, and Thai fish sauce adds a savory, salty, sweet note that brings all the components of the salad together and is perfect for dipping the cracked crab into.
Summer weekends fly by so quickly, as does the season for crab and cherries, so I’m glad I finally got a chance to sneak out of the city and enjoy it!
Dungeness Crab with Rainier Cherries and Mango Salad
Crab season is only open for about a month Washington State, so it’s a special treat. If you get live crabs from the supermarket (or the ocean of course), keep them on ice until you are ready to cook them, which should be the same day. We cooked our crabs in a big pot of seawater on the beach over a propane burner, but if you are at home just cook them large pot of salted water for 20 minutes. There is big debate over whether to kill and clean the crabs before cooking or after. If you’re squeamish just put them in the boiling water whole. Cooked crab will keep for a couple days in the refrigerator.
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon chili garlic paste (or more)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ pound (about 15) Rainier or Bing cherries, pitter
1 mango, peeled and diced
¼ cup each julienned carrot, cucumber, and onion (Walla Walla or Vidalia would be nice)
½-1 jalapeño, very thinly sliced (depending on your heat preference)
¼ cup cilantro leaves
¼ cup mint leaves
2 cooked and cleaned Dungeness crab
Make the sauce. Whisk the sauce ingredients together and set aside.
Make the salad. Put the cherries, mango, carrot, cucumber, onion, jalapeños, cilantro, and mint in a bowl. Pour 3 tablespoons of the sauce over the salad, and then put the rest in a small bowl for serving with the crab.
Serve the crab. Set out the crab around the edge of a plate, and then mound the salad in the center. Serve with the reserved dipping sauce.