Grilled Dungeness Crab with Chili Oil, Potatoes and Aioli Recipe
Dungeness crab season is a brief, special moment in Northern California that fortunately for us, coincides with the holidays. Grilled crab is my favorite way to welcome the start of the season. It’s festive, fun and a little messy, like all good celebrations are. We like to honor the crab the best way we know how, with a bottle of Scribe Sparkling.
Grilled Dungeness Crab
Serves 4 to 6
4 live Dungeness crab
2 tablespoons dried, ground chili flakes: sweet paprika, espelette or guajillo
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 garlic clove pounded
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 bunch of parsley, picked and chopped
2 lemons, wedged
Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Once it’s boiling, put your crab into the pot and boil for 13 minutes. Using tongs, carefully remove the crab from the pot and let them cool on a sheet tray until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, make the chili oil by placing the ground chilis in a small bowl and cover with the olive oil. Add the salt, garlic, red wine vinegar, lemon zest and parsley, and mix to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.
To clean the crab, hold it in the palm of one hand, sitting upright. Use your other hand to lift up the back of the top shell, and lift it toward the front of the crab. Discard the top shell and use your hands to remove the gills, and any other inner bits. Holding the two sets of legs in either hand, fold the crab in half, upward to break it into two pieces. Remove any other inner bits and dunk each half in cold water to clean it. Now you have two halves. Using a crab cracker, or heavy mallet, delicately crack the crab legs, while keeping the crab intact.
Place the cleaned, cracked crab in a large bowl and drizzle over a few spoonfuls of chili oil. Use your hands, or tongs, to toss the crab and coat it in the oil, being sure to get oil into the bodies. Place the crab onto a hot grill, and grill for about 5 minutes on each side, until you start to see a little char and the crab is warmed all the way through.
Serve the crab with the wedged lemons, alongside the potatoes, aioli and the rest of the chili oil.
1 pound new, small or medium potatoes, rinsed
Place the potatoes into a pot with a handful of salt and cover with cold water. Potatoes need to be cooked in very salty water. Put the pot over medium flame, until it comes to a boil. Turn the pot down to a low simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
Drain the potatoes from the water and let them cool until they’re easy to handle. Cut the potatoes in half, drizzle with olio nuovo and flaky salt.
1 egg yolk
1 garlic clove, pounded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mild olive oil or 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup neutral oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Put the egg yolk, garlic and salt in a bowl. Use a whisk to vigorously mix the yolk while slowly, slowly pouring in the oil, to create an emulsion. Be patient. If the emulsification feels like it’s getting too thick, thin out with some vinegar or water. Once all the oil is incorporated, add the vinegar and lemon if you haven’t already. Adjust the seasoning with salt, lemon or garlic.