By Maggie -- Sep 12, 2014
After our failed attempt at crabbing in North Carolina a few months back, we were excited to learn that September is the perfect month to crab onshore in Oregon. The rivers don't have as much water flowing into the ocean allowing more saltwater to come into the harbor, which encourages the crabbies to hang out. Both of us knew the very basics about catching a crab. 1. You need bait, 2. You need a line, 3. You need a license. Other than that, we had quite a bit to learn.
A few interesting facts about crabbing in Oregon: You're only allowed to catch males that are 5 3/4 inches in diameter. Crabs will hold on tight to any bait they come across and float with it all the way up to the surface as you reel it in because they're hungry hoarders. You can go crabbing using a fishing pole, and the most common bait to use is dark chicken meat. It's fun once you get the hang of it! The hardest part is throwing the ones that just aren't big enough or are female back into the water. The regulations are strictly enforced here to keep the population up.
Locals in this part of Oregon are almost all retired men who have been fishing for most of their lives. They live to fish and not much else. So walking onto a dock packed shoulder-to-shoulder with white-haired pros is pretty intimidating… but crabbing isn't really a technical sport. It's more about timing and luck, and it's best to have a good crab trap or pot. At the Rogue Outfitters store we picked up some calamari as bait and a 3-day license for $20. The scruffy man working the counter insisted that we drive 50 minutes north to a different town to go crabbing, and not go out on the local dock in Gold Beach because we'd have no luck. He also sold us the most ridiculous crab trap that didn't work at all. Despite his warnings and the crappy equipment, we managed to catch large 6 male dungeness crabs in about 2 hours. Take that!
So we caught all these crabs, now what? I couldn't wait to try my hands at cooking them up. I follow a food blog that I love called Food52. Every once in awhile I try a recipe that never lets me down. I came across one in an email a few days ago for "roasted chile and potato stew" and it just sounded cheap and delicious and something I'd keep in my quick recipes arsenal. The recipe is vegetarian, but what if we add fresh crab? (Rolling up our sleeves) DUDE let's totally go for it!
This was an all afternoon affair, folks. I started by cooking the crab and followed some directions I found online that walked us through shelling and cleaning the crab. To some of you this may sound pathetic that we actually need instructions on how to do this. Keep in mind, I've been under the impression that I am allergic to shellfish for the better part of my life (when in fact, I'm not!), and Ryan's a Minnesotan. So... yeah.
I made the stew as instructed and added a little bit of salt (it was a little bland for us without it). Then we added the crab to it afterwards so we didn't overcook the meat. It was the perfect meal for a fall day on the Rogue River. We felt so accomplished! And, we had tons of crab leftover. This morning we made crab with polenta and eggs, and for lunch we had crab salad sandwiches with cucumber, lettuce and lemon. Both meals were super simple and let the taste of the crab really shine through. I am really loving feeling creative with having to cook things I've never cooked before. We spend tons of time online researching everything before we try it, because we know we don't have time to mess up and try again at the fast pace we move. This is one aspect of road life that both of us will really miss. It's never the "same old, same old". It's always something fresh and wild and delicious.