Once upon a time, Dungeness crab had a season ― winter. And in the face of emergency, it became our habit for Christmas Eve supper. With gifts yet to wrap, we stopped at the fish stand north of town seeking a primitive form of HMR (home-meal replacement) just as a big basket of red-shelled Dungeness crab was being hauled out of a deep vat of boiling water. Our menu was clinched, requiring only one more quick stop, at the Italian bakery on Main Street for a loaf of sourdough.
Now, with live tanks for Alaskan crustaceans, Dungeness is available year-round. But it's still our Christmas Eve tradition ― plain, as cioppino, or warmed up in this steamy, fragrant broth.