Still putting the finishing touches on your holiday spread? You might consider opting for sustainably managed, locally harvested seafood this holiday season. The winter season is prime time for commercial Dungeness crab harvesting, with Dungeness crab from the coastal commercial crab fishery available at dockside markets and other retail markets near you. And whether you’re enjoying crab you’ve harvested yourself or planning to make a visit to your local seafood market this holiday season, rest assured that fishery managers are working hard to support sustainable seafood management that all Washingtonians can trust.
The Washington coastal Dungeness crab fishery, the state’s largest commercial fishery, accounts for between 10 and 20 million pounds worth over $50 million dockside. In Puget Sound, where another important commercial and very popular recreational fishery occur, fishers find crab is most abundant north of Seattle, in Hood Canal, and near the Pacific Coast. This hard-shelled crustacean is fished from the Aleutian Islands to Mexico. The Dungeness crab is frequently found in eelgrass beds and prefers sandy or muddy habitats.
WDFW uses extensive monitoring to ensure sustainable, ecologically resilient Dungeness crab populations. Pre-season and in-season testing includes measuring crab shell size, hardness and other data points, including the presence of marine toxins, to help get a better understanding of the health and abundance of the Dungeness crab population. Visit our Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery web page to learn more.
Find Washington seafood near you with the help of Local Catch, a network of supported fisheries and small-scale harvesters. Not sure how to prepare your bounty? Check out some of our favorite recipes from our friends at Seafood Nutrition Partnership and Washington Sea Grant, which has a suite of local Washington seafood recipes perfect for the holiday season.
Baked crab cakes
courtesy of Washington Sea Grant
1 lb. crab meat
Red bell pepper diced
1–2 large tablespoons dijon mustard
1–2 large tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice (and a bit of zest)
1 cup panko bread crumbs. (Might need more. Need to be able to form mixture into rounds).
Mix crab, red pepper, mustard, mayo, lemon juice, black pepper and 2 eggs in a large bowl. Add 1 cup panko and mix. Check consistency. Add more egg or panko until you can form cakes. Place cakes on parchment paper on a cookie sheet, Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or when fairly brown on top. Flip and bake another 15 minutes
Can be served with a sauce made with ketchup, mayo, lemon or lime juice and horse radish.
Creamy crab dip
courtesy of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership
2 6-ounce cans crab meat, drained
12 oz. cream cheese softened, 1 1/2 blocks
6 green onions, chopped
5 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese or mozzarella, divided
sliced green onions for garnish
crackers, chips, or crostini for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, onion, mayo, crabmeat, garlic powder, salt, and 1/2 of shredded cheese. Stir until well combined. Spread into a small 6-inch cast-iron skillet or 1 quart baking dish. Top with other 1/2 cup cheese. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven or until bubbly and hot. Turn the broiler on and broil until cheese on top is browned in spots. Remove from oven and let sit 5–10 minutes before serving.
Whole Washington Dungeness Crab
courtesy of Washington Sea Grant
4 cooked Washington crabs, ~ 2 pounds each
1 T. kosher salt
1 c. (or 2 sticks) salted butter
1 t. seafood seasoning
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 c. ketchup
1–2 t. prepared horseradish
Fresh dill and parsley for garnish
Sliced lemon and limes
Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil; season with 1 T. kosher salt. Once boiling, remove from heat. Immerse two Washington-harvested crabs into water for 5–10 mins. until they are warmed through. Remove crabs from water and set aside to drain. Bring water to a boil again and repeat with remaining Washington crabs. Clean cooked crabs while the others are cooking in the hot water. Serve on a platter with fresh dill leaves, parsley, and sliced lemons and limes.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Reduce the heat to low and skim the foam from the butter. Stir in the seafood seasoning and the lemon juice. In a small bowl, mix the ketchup wit the prepared horseradish. Serve the flavored butter and cocktail sauce alongside the Washington crab and enjoy!
When to enjoy local Washington seafood
Hint: all the time! Keep our commercial fishing season graphic below in mind as you shop throughout the year to enjoy local Washington seafood all year long.
Visit wdfw.wa.gov/LocalWASeafood to learn more about in-season sustainable seafood and how the state and its partners are working to keep it on families’ tables, in the market, and on the menu.