Dungeness crabDecember’s Fish of the Month is Dungeness crab.

As sub-zero weather roars through Chicago, the Right Bite team cannot think of anything more comforting than a warm bowl of Dungeness crab bisque. With a name like Dungeness, this crustacean must be out of the ordinary!

For centuries, local fisherman caught Dungeness crab off the coast of the Pacific. In 1848, the first commercial industry opened in Dungeness, Washington and the city bestowed its namesake. Today, Dungeness crab is harvested from abundant, well-regulated fisheries throughout California, Oregon and Washington. For over 50 years, the state fisheries have followed the "3-S" Principle, an eco-friendly management technique based on the crab’s size, sex and season.

Exclusive to Dungeness fisheries, it is illegal to haul in crab smaller than 6¼ inches. After measuring crabs for proper size, fishermen must check the crab’s gender too. You will not find a lady Dungeness on your plate! Only males are harvested for consumption during non-molting season, from mid-November to June. Any crab that does not fit the "3-S" Principle is left at sea to fully mature and reproduce.

But wait, there is more! The traps used to catch Dungeness result in little to no bycatch and further reduce the industry’s impact on the environment. The Right Bite team recommends Dungeness crab as a "Best Choice" for sustainability. With continued rigorous management, this crab will be snappin’ for years to come.

For a simple dish, try steaming Dungeness crabs for 15-20 minutes and serving with butter and lemon wedges. Or if the cold weather has you aching for something hot, try our yummy Tomato-Basil Dungeness Crab Bisque.

Tomato-Basil Crab Bisque
Serves 6


- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 cup plus 1/4 cup Dungeness crabmeat
- 3/4 cup canned diced tomatoes, juices reserved
- 4 shallots, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 teaspoons old bay seasoning
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Salt & Pepper


1. In large soup pot, melt oil over medium-high heat. 

2. Add 3/4 cup of crabmeat, tomato, garlic, shallot and 1/2 cup of basil to pot and sauté for 2 minutes. 

3. Slowly add flour and whisk until dissolved and thickened, about 2 minutes. 

4. Add stock, cream, Old Bay, lemon juice and reserved tomato juice. 

5. Reduce and simmer, about 10 minutes and cool for 5 minutes. 

6. Pour mix into blender and puree. Return mix to pot over medium-high heat. 

7. Bring to simmer and season with salt and pepper to taste.

8. Spoon bisque into bowls and garnish with crab and basil.

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Posted by Brooke Havlik, conservation