This week marked the start of dungeness crab season. Growing up on the east coast, I had many a crab cake made with the Maryland blue crab. I had no idea what I was missing. This rendition of dungeness crab was no exception.
This recipe really lets the crab steal the show. Although it is a little time consuming because of the added time to make the shellfish fumet, the extra time is well worth it. We put it in Stanley Thermos’ (like the kind my dad used to take to work) and brought it to our annual Christmas tree cutting trip in the National Forest. For some reason, bisque just feels right for the holidays.
In season, dungeness crab is not terribly expensive if you are willing to do a little work (i.e. buy whole crabs and take the meat out yourself instead of buying lump crab meat). I went to Newman’s yesterday and picked up 3 whole crabs that were caught early that morning. They sell them cooked and cleaned, so I only had to remove the crab meat. I saved the shells to make shellfish fumet for the base of the bisque. Making fumet is alot like making chicken stock – in fact, most of the ingredients are the same. I used a recipe from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook.
This bisque recipe makes a more brothy bisque, which I prefer. Use less fumet is your prefer a heavier bisque. Although you could use chicken stock in place of the fumet, I highly recommend using the fumet.
Other dungeness crab recipes on this site:
Shellfish fumet, adapted from Zuni Cafe Cookbook
Makes 3-4 cups of fumet (I tripled the recipe below and used my 7-1/4 qt dutch oven)
About 1 pound of shells
1 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup sliced carrot
1/3 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup sliced yellow onion
A few black peppercorns
A couple sprigs of parsley
4 cups cold water (enough to almost cover the shells)
Salt to taste
Add the shells, vegetables, peppercorns, and parsley to a large saucepan or stock pot. Add water to almost cover. Bring to a simmer for about an hour. Do not stir. It should taste sweet-ish when its done. Strain fumet and let cool. Use immediately or freeze.
For about 12 cups
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2-1/4 cups thinly sliced carrots
1-1/2 cups thinly sliced celery
2-1/4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
3 bay leaves
3 small dried chilis
6 garlic cloves
Crab meat from 3 medium dungeness crabs (about 2 pounds of crab meat)
1-1/2 cups thinly sliced fennel
8-9 cups shellfish fumet
1 cup dry white wine
5-6 Tbsp heavy cream
Melt 2Tbsp butter in large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, and chilis. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until vegetables soften (about 5 min).
Add 2/3 of the lump crab meat, along with additional 2 Tbsp butter. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add fennel, fumet, and white wine. Bring to a simmer and season with salt to taste. Simmer for about an hour. Remove chilis and bay leaves.
In batches, run soup through food processor. Process according to your desired texture. I prefer a lumpier bisque so only pulse each batch 3-5 times. After all soup is processed, return it to the dutch oven. Reheat and add heavy cream and remaining crab meat. Salt to taste and serve.