Fresh Dungeness crab in the High Sierra

Little Fish Co. delivers fresh crab next to the Pour House in Truckee

Fresh cracked Dungeness crab for Christmas Eve is a longtime tradition for us.

We serve it cold, or warmed up in a steamer, with a homemade lemon aioli sauce and drawn butter. The sides are a butter lettuce salad with vinaigrette, and hot sour dough bread. Sometimes we add a steamed artichoke. The wine is a dry California sauvignon blanc, viognier or fume blanc.

It is a quintessential California meal, at least for us.

When my parents retired at Bodega Bay, we bought fresh Dungeness crab from local fishermen. In San Francisco, we’d get the crab at the wharf. And in the Sierra Foothills we get it from fisherman Brand Little, who owns The Little Fish Co. in Auburn.

Brand has a fishing boat at Half Moon Bay. He and his wife, Laura, sell fresh fish and shellfish — from Dungeness crab to salmon — at the local farmers markets and drop-off points in the region. It is a lot of work to get fresh fish to the foothills and Truckee-Tahoe.

This season, the supply of Dungeness crab is limited (and the price is higher). But Brand took his boat out this week, cooked the crab last night, and began his weekly deliveries. We are in Tahoe, so we picked up two of them at a drop-off spot next to the Pour House, a well-stocked wine shop in downtown Truckee.

This time we’re going to combine the Dungeness crab with a cup of homemade clam chowder from Morgan’s Lobster Shack in Truckee, known for its own “wicked fresh fish” (but no Dungeness crab this week). It is an outstanding chowder. Like the Little Fish Co., Morgan’s is run by an enterprising young couple, Shawn and Heather Whitney. We are regulars for the fish during the summer.

Thanks to enterprising locals, residents can eat fresh shellfish and fish in the Sierra. Merry Christmas!

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

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