Crab season flavors bisque classic

By: Susie Iventosch Special to Home & Garden
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You may notice a sign indicating fresh crab as you pass by Ikeda’s in Auburn. That is because the Dungeness crab catch is off to a very good start this year — great news for crab lovers! “Most of our crab is coming out of Crescent City, Coos Bay and Fort Bragg,” said Glen Ikeda, of Ikeda’s in Auburn. “For some reason those Northern California and Southern Oregon waters are producing a bigger and more abundant supply of crab, but we don’t really know why this occurrence is happening. “The crab fishermen are pulling about 30 crabs per pot (the device used to catch the crab) from the northern waters whereas off the Bay Area coastal waters, the haul is just 5-10 per pot.” According to Ikeda, the fisherman put out the pots, which are essentially a series of round contraptions strung together, and they drop them down anywhere from 40 to 100 feet below the water’s surface. They let them sit for one to two days and then hook the line to a wench and reel it up. “A nice size crab is about 2 pounds,” Ikeda pointed out. “Crab is categorized into three classifications according to size — 1.7-2 pounds, “2 and ups” and Ocean Run, which are those under 1.7 pounds. The last group is the least desirable, because they are not only small, but may also be missing claws.” Ikeda’s always tries to carry the “2 and ups” which are the premium catch. Though they normally sell between $6 and $7 per pound, Ikeda’s is keeping the price at $5.99 this season due to the economy. The market receives shipments twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Fridays, unless there are storms off the coast that prevent the catch that week. Customers can always call to place special orders. “We sell crab from early November through March or April,” Ikeda said. “And, although the season can go on as long as June, the catch later in the season is often comprised of the smaller crab and we feel, ethically, that it’s a good idea to pull back so the crop can reproduce for the next season.” Susie can be reached at suziven ---------- Crab Bisque (Renders approximately 1 quart of soup) Ingredients Stock 2-3 whole Dungeness crabs, cleaned and meat picked from shells. Set aside meat, but reserve shells 6 cups water 2 ribs celery, cut into large chunks 1 carrot, cut into large chunks 1 teaspoon black peppercorns Roux 4 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon flour Bisque 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 carrot finely diced 2 ribs celery, finely diced 2 medium tomatoes, diced ¼ cup dry sherry 3 cups seafood stock (made from shells above) 1 cup half & half Salt and white pepper to taste 2 pounds lump crab meat To make stock: Take all shells after picking crab meat and place into large soup pot along with large chunks of celery, carrots and peppercorns. Cover with water and bring to a boil and continue to boil for 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until broth reduces to 3 cups in volume, about 45 minutes or so. Strain out and discard shells and vegetables and reserve stock. To make roux: In a small pan, heat butter until bubbly, add flour and stir vigorously to integrate flour and butter. Continue to cook until mixture is browned, but not burned. Set aside. To make bisque: Heat olive oil in soup pot and add all vegetables. Cook until tender. Add sherry and deglaze pan over high heat. Add stock to soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes. Strain bisque, leaving only broth. Return to soup pot and add roux to slightly thicken. (This is a very thin cream soup and should not be overly thickened.) Add half & half and a dash of cayenne. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. When ready to serve, pour half-cup servings into shallow bowls and add lump crab meat to the bisque. Dust with paprika or chili powder for color accent. Bistro cracked crab Ingredients 1 large whole fresh crab, cracked and cleaned Marinade: ¼ cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil Juice of one lemon 1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic 2 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian parsley ¼ cup good white wine Directions Rinse and dry crab and place in a large bowl. Whisk the marinade ingredients together. Pour marinade over crab and toss well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour, or longer. Toss again. Enjoy with fresh sourdough bread!