How to buy Dungeness crab: According to Sinclair Philip of the Sooke Harbour House Inn in Victoria, it‘s best to purchase crab that‘s still alive. (Just watch out for the claws; always handle a live crab from the back of the shell.) A live crab should be stored in the fridge (this will help to ease its feistiness before you boil it), but don‘t freeze it and never put it in fresh water; that's sure to kill it.
How to cook it: To cook a live crab, fill a pot with enough water to cover it a few times over. It isn‘t necessary to add salt to the water, but, if you‘re on the coast, use sea water. Bring the water to a boil, then place the crab in the pot with the shell down and boil it for 10 minutes. Refresh under cold water before serving. “If you have seaweed, any other fish or shellfish or even Grand fir needles to flavour your cooking broth, the crab will taste even better,“ Philip says.
How to serve it: The best way to eat crab is with the fingers, so Philip recommends having nutcrackers and crab picks on the table for extracting meat from the legs, claws and body. The meat inside the carapace can be liberated by splitting the body in half with kitchen scissors and nudging the flesh out with your fingers and thumbs. Set out a bowl for guests' discarded shells along with individual finger bowls and plenty of napkins; sitting down to a plate of crab can be as messy as it is festive.
- Deirdre Kelly
Beppi's wine match: Sometimes oaked and sometimes not, medium-bodied pinot gris, a signature of British Columbia and Oregon, has the weight to support the meaty crab and acidity to go claw-to-claw with a splash of lemon.