Crabbing 101: New Vancouver Tour Shows How to Catch and Cook Crab

Photo credit: Joanne Wan | Flickr

Photo credit: Joanne Wan | Flickr

The king of crabs – at least around Vancouver – goes by the scientific name metacarcinus magister. Better known as the Dungeness crab, this tasty crustacean can grow up to 20 centimetres across its shell and is known for its sweet, tender meat.  Locally, Dungeness crab turns up in everything from crab cakes and fancy Eggs Benedict to California rolls packed with the succulent meat.

Now, a brand new tour is offering local crab lovers a chance to catch and cook a Dungeness crab of their own. Offered by Swallow Tail – the Vancouver company known for its wild foraging tours – the Catch and Cook Crabbing Tour takes aspiring crabbers to the docks at a local hotspot to try their luck.  The goal: catch your own dinner and learn how to cook it up like the pros. 

Photo credit: Timothy Vollmer | Flickr

Photo credit: Timothy Vollmer | Flickr

The tour, which meets at Jericho Beach in front of the sailing centre, starts with some Crabbing 101. Swallow Tail’s expert guide shows guests how to fish from the docks using crabbing traps. The traps are baited, then set in the water to see what’s biting. In the meantime, instruction is given on how to identify male and female crabs (females have to be thrown back), what times of day are best for catching monster crabs and where to crab locally.

A few hours later, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Swallow Tail’s chef shows how to prepare your catch West Coast-style. (The most important thing: Never boil your crab.) After whipping up a healthy helping of savoury garlic crab, groups enjoy an al fresco meal on the beach or head inside to the supper club when the weather isn’t cooperating.

Dungeness crabs at San Francisco's Fishermen's Wharf

Dungeness crabs at San Francisco’s Fishermen’s Wharf

The three-hour tour ($129 per person) includes all licenses, bait and traps. Guests can even purchase an optional one-year fishing license ($19) if they plan to do some crabbing of their own afterward. Currently scheduled tours run multiple times a day on Saturdays. A shorter two-hour tour ($89 per person) focuses just on the art of crab fishing, skipping the lunch. (But you do get plenty of tips on how to prepare the crab you catch that day once you get home.)

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