Somewhere around mid-November every year the Dungeness Crabs of the West Coast begin to make their journey from the sea to our plates. This fact did not go under-utilized by our friends, the Wildermuth's, who had invited us to join them on their trip to Oregon for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Due to family obligations we were unable to attend. We wanted to; we always do. We've had a standing invitation for years now. Who wouldn't want to go visit Coos Bay, Oregon in the late fall where their family lived. Kim and her Mom have been chronicled in these pages on Pizza Quest when I asked her mother to make up some of her pickled jalapeños on a visit to LA sometime last year. I affectionately called them "Mom's Pickled Jalapeños". You can find the recipe in our archives. I got word that her whole family got a kick out of Googling "Mom's Jalapeños" and seeing her recipe pop up in the number one spot!
Anyway, I was minding my own business, helping my own in-laws around the house during the holiday break, when I started to get text messages from Oregon about how much crab they had just pulled onto the boat. Torture! I imagined the feasts they would have. More torture! Then I started getting more texts about the feasts that they did have. Enough! I blocked it out of my mind and went back to my crab-less vacation.
After the holidays, I got a pleasant surprise when they asked us over to help them eat some of the crab that they brought home. Done deal! We sat and cracked crab and I was introduced to a terrific new dipping sauce -- a simple, spiced up version of Vietnamese Fish Sauce. I devoured my crab using only that. The salt/spice combination was terrific with the steamed and then cooled crab.
There were plenty more crabs left from their haul and they sent me home with some. Kim's family had sent extra, perhaps knowing the torture I was put through over the holidays! I wanted to eat the crab while it was still relatively fresh. A light bulb went off in my head and I pulled a few frozen dough balls out of the freezer. It was time that I get to making some more pizzas for the website anyway. Why not come up with a couple to celebrate our friend, Mr. Dungeness?
For this first version I decided to try to make a simple pizza and finish it off with the cooled crab on top after it cooked. This is a great way to enjoy a "special" ingredient in a not so common way -- on a pizza. I wanted to build a pizza that supported and showcased the crab as it was, as close to how I had just eaten it: cracked, dipped, and devoured. So, here's what I came up with.
The Crab Season Pizza
- Peter's Classic Pizza Dough *Recipe (in PQ the archives)
- Peter's Herb Oil *Recipe (likewise, in the archives)
- Shredded Mozzarella cheese
- Shredded Provolone cheese
- Preserved Lemon, or Lemon Curd
- Sliced Red Onion
- Grape Tomatoes
- Fresh Cracked Crab -- Steamed and Cooled -- or a quality canned Lump Crab Meat
- Chopped Kalamata olives
- Fresh Arugula
- Spiced Fish Sauce
Spiced Fish Sauce Recipe for drizzling:
- Vietnamese Fish Sauce (I have access to a lot of ethnic markets around here and this is readily available everywhere now, but especially at local Asian markets. Also, Kim generally monitors my Fish Sauce, Oyster Sauce and Chili Garlic Sauce pantry, as we all often get together and cook at each others houses.)
- Thai Chili peppers or whatever heat level peppers you can tolerate
- A fresh lemon or lime
Spiced Fish Sauce Recipe
To make this great drizzle sauce, simply take a little fish sauce and chop up some Thai Chili peppers, to taste, add them to the sauce and squeeze a little fresh lemon or lime. You can make it on the same day you plan to use it but, if you can do this the day before, the sauce will take on even more of the flavors from the chili peppers. Store it in the refrigerator.
Preheat your oven to the highest temperature, about 550 degrees, for at least an hour prior to cooking to make sure to get your pizza stone up to temperature.
Spread out and shape your dough, and cover it lightly with some herb oil.
Add a little grated Mozzarella and a touch less of the provolone, or other favorite cheese.
*NOTE: I used a limited amount of each ingredient in order to give the crab center stage. If you make this a few times, you can adjust the amounts each time until you get it just right. For this pizza I think a less is more approach is best.
Add a few dabs of the Lemon Curd around the dough - for flavor accents in the finished pizza. *You could skip this and drizzle the pizza with a little fresh squeezed lemon juice instead, or do both.
Add the sliced red onions and halved grape tomatoes. Place them open side down, which helps them sit there when you slide the pizza in the oven and allows the tomato to hold more moisture -- almost acting like a steaming chamber for itself.
Into the oven with your pizza.
*Note: When I place my first pizza in the oven, I change it over to Convection Bake which adjusts the temperature down to 525 degrees, but the airflow seems to help cook the pizza much faster. I am getting close to 6 - 7 minute pizzas regularly in my home oven. Cooking times are not a science and are more often than not a moving target from one pizza to the next.
When the pizza comes out, add a few chopped Kalamata Olives and the cool crab. If you have been reading my recipes, this seems to be a running theme of adding cool toppings after the bake. Crab is the perfect ingredient to do that with. It will slowly warm up as it sits on the pizza, so make sure you enjoy a bite while the temperature contrast is there. I love that!
Drizzle a little of the Fish Sauce with Chillis onto the crab (ahhh, the "secret ingredient" to this incredible pie!).
Top with some fresh arugula
Cut and Serve!
I think you will enjoy this pizza if you like crab. As you bite into it you experience a flavor sandwich with the warm crust and cheesy herb oil on the bottom as the roof of your mouth explores it's way through the cool greens and fresh cracked crab while it all meets with the occasional burst of the sweet warm grape tomatoes! There are also hits of the tart sweet lemon, an occasional salty briny Kalamatas, and the fish sauce with an accent.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I clearly did.
Send me some of your favorite crab, or seafood pizza recipes and I'll give them a go and maybe feature them here. And, as always, if you try this, let us know how you liked it and maybe what variations you came up with that you loved as an option. After all, making pizza is all about options!