My family always demands Dungeness crab when the season first opens in November, and we often go to outrageous lengths to procure fresh crab  for Christmas Eve. But then we kind of forget about it.

Which is a shame, because there’s still plenty of the sweet, delicate  crab meat around through the winter months, when you really need a seasonal treat to keep you going.

If you haven’t done it yet, try to reserve a spot at a local crab feed or better yet, take a trip up to Mendocino for the Crab and Wine Days, running through the end of this month.

At Mendo Bistro in Fort Bragg, chef Nicholas Petti and his wife, Jaimi, have two reasons to celebrate this month: the crab festival and the restaurant’s 11th anniversary on Jan. 26.

Every night of the festival, Mendo Bistro will serve prix fixe Dungeness crab menus that range from $32 for two courses to $44 for three courses, plus an additional $10 for two wines or $16 for three wines.

Petti will also share the secrets of his award-winning crab online casino cakes at 1 p.m. Sunday at the restaurant during a master class. Cost is $35 per person, $65 per couple. To reserve, call 964-4974 .”

Meanwhile, here’s a recipe from Petti for a delicious, crab soup that will chase away the rainy, winter blues.


Crab Hot and Sour Soup

Serves 4

1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms

1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and julienned

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

6 cups chicken or crab stock

¼ cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 teaspoons sugar

2 serrano chiles, minced

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons cold water

¼ cup rice vinegar

1 cup crabmeat

1 egg, beaten


Cover mushrooms with hot water to soft. Soak for about 30 minutes. Gently sauté the ginger and garlic. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add ingredients up to the black pepper. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Make a slurry with cold water and cornstarch and add to the simmering soup to thicken. Adjust sourness with rice vinegar and spiciness with additional black pepper, if desired.

Divide crabmeat among bowls. Add egg to simmering soup. Stir once or twice but try not to break up the threads of egg. Pour soup over crabmeat and serve.