Whole Roasted Crab Crusted with Garlic and Red Pepper

(from San Francisco Examiner Magazine, Aug. 29, 1999, at 34-35.)

I haven't actually prepared this dish before. It was in the Sunday supplement to the newspaper and I decided to write it up here so that I would have the recipe handy later on.

My hope was that this crab would be at least vaguely reminiscent of the garlic crab house specialty at Crustacean (in Los Angeles and San Francisco).  Though I never got around to trying it, someone else did and emailed me to say it didn't come that close.  But here's another crab recipe that (according to the person who emailed it to me) is loosely based on this recipe, but modified to come closer to the crab served at Crustacean.


  • 2 live Dungeness crabs (about 2 lbs. each)
  • 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T. finely chopped spring garlic or 4 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 T. chopped thyme
  • 1 t. crushed fennel seeds
  • 1 t. kosher or sea salt
  • 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 T. melted unsalted butter


  1. Boil the crabs for 3 minutes in a large, salted pot of boiling water, submerging the crabs entirely. Drain, discarding the liquid
  2. Cool crabs until they can be handled, and then clean, section and crack them.
  3. In a mini-food processor or a blender, puree the olive oil, herbs and spices.
  4. Toss the oil mixture and crabs, coating the crabs thoroughly.
  5. Preheat oven to the highest temperature you can (probably 550 degrees Fahrenheit).
  6. Roast crabs until golden brown and bubbling, about 8-10 minutes. Serve on a warmed platter with the melted butter for dipping.
Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a first dish.

My first guesses concerning modifications needed as part of the Crustacean rip-off project are this:

  1. Replace the olive oil with a 1/2 cup of melted butter.
  2. Replace the red pepper with 2 or more tablespoons of cracked black pepper.
  3. Use 8 or more cloves of garlic.
  4. Add the black pepper mixture to the butter mixture after the other spices and herbs have been pureed into it, and lightly mix.