What you should know about Dungeness crab

In my novel Nearly Canaan, Joshua and Jaya settle into a place unlike anything they would have imagined. It’s desert, for one thing, where nearly everything has to be irrigated, for another. Quite simply, it’s a lot like Yakima, in the middle of Washington state. But it’s also close to fresh Dungeness crab, a shellfish with a heavenly taste all its own.

What you should know.

  1. It draws its name from Dungeness, Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula.
  2. It’s not King Crab, mind you, an Alaska specialty, but it is threatened by ocean acidification.
  3. It has five pairs of legs. (I haven’t counted the ones on a lobster.)
  4. It is found largely between Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and Santa Barbara, California. But don’t overlook that Washington state connection, right in the middle.
  5. About one-quarter of the crab’s weight is meat. One crab usually satisfies one person, though sometimes it will be shared by two.
  6. It has a delicate flavor and a slightly sweet taste. Don’t ask me to compare it to chicken or anything else. Not even lobster. It’s as different as cod is from salmon.
  7. It’s the State Crustacean of Oregon. What else do they have?
  8. If you go out at night trying to find one with a strong light focused in the water, you can likely rake up one right next to a decaying starfish.
  9. You really can’t get it here, wherever that is, outside of the Pacific Northwest.
  10. If you haven’t guessed, I really do miss them. They don’t travel well.

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