Dungeness crabs are a natural for an indulgent, celebratory meal on New Year’s Eve. The trick is to offer a variety of Dungeness options. Image source: Flickr CC user Louisiana Sea Grant College Program
We all know the signs of a customer in the throes of a decision about what to make for New Year’s Eve. They’ll make a pass by the seafood counter, pause, maybe check their grocery list or look up recipes on their phone, then peruse the meat counter before coming back and staring at the seafood again. They’ve already done so much shopping for Christmas that they’re tired of making decisions, and probably tired of cooking, too.
But for New Year’s Eve here in the Bay Area, there’s an obvious choice. We all know this area has a long tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving with Dungeness crab, but Dungeness is also the perfect way to ring in the New Year. Its relatively high cost-per-pound means it’s a bit of a luxury item for most, making it a good final splurge for the end of the holiday season. It’s also healthy, local, sustainable, and easy–especially if your counter sells it pre-cooked, cracked, and cleaned, or already picked in tubs and ready to become crabcakes or dip.
Indulgent, Healthy, and Convenient
The magic of Dungeness crab is that it is versatile enough to suit nearly any kind of party, from a fancy appetizer party to a casual snacking get-together to a formal sit down dinner. Here’s how to create a display that draws in each of these types of customer, and makes it easy to make a decision.
- Offer various sizes of picked crab in 8, 16, or 32 ounce deli containers. Put recipe cards for a variety of dishes using picked crab nearby, or on each container. Make it easy for customers to gauge how much crab they might need for their group size by noting the amount it serves when used in common dishes.
- Some of our customers may have an eye on their fitness-oriented New Year’s resolutions, so give them a gentle reminder that Dungeness would actually be beneficial to their healthy goals for 2017. Try posting a card in the display case that lists some of the nutrition facts of Dungeness, or simply mention it in conversation if you bring up your healthy New Year’s resolutions to your customers.
- Whole cooked crabs are easy, since all a party host needs to do is reheat them briefly in boiling water. Offer plenty of these for customers doing crab feasts, and sell crab cracking tools nearby.
- For those doing a seafood platter or looking for an elegant appetizer, offer cooked, cleaned, and cracked sections of crab.
- Offer premade seafood platters that include Dungeness crab. You can even have Dungeness prepared different ways on the same platter, say, as mini crab cakes and in cracked sections.
New Twists on Traditional Crab Dishes
Tempt your customers with some Dungeness recipes tailormade for a San Francisco New Year’s Eve. You can offer recipes on cards or fliers, or feature them on your website. Offer revamped favorites such as:
- Appetizers like hot crab dip or mini crab rolls–these classic retro party favorites are always popular.
- A recipe for a first course of a simple squash soup spiked with chili and topped with Dungeness crab. This would be ideal to kick off a sit-down dinner party.
- The centerpiece of an elegant buffet could be a mixed seafood platter featuring cleaned and picked Dungeness crab piled high in an empty crab shell.
- Suggest an update to a traditional New Year’s side dish considered especially lucky: Black-eyed peas topped with Dungeness that has been brightened up with a little lime juice and paprika would be an excellent way to make a southern classic more appropriate for a Bay Area-style New Year’s celebration.
Along with Dungeness, Sell Lucky Whole Fish
Did you know that whole fish are considered lucky, and are traditionally eaten at New Year’s? You might print out this fun fact and put it at eye-level above your seafood case where your customers can spot it. Try offering a discount on whole fish with the purchase of three or more crabs as a New Year’s special.
One whole fish dish that might not be as intimidating to customers as a large whole fish is deep fried smelts, or “fries with eyes.” These little fish can be eaten as-is, bones and all, and make a delightful appetizer when paired with champagne or sparkling wine. Consider offering a complimentary pound of lucky whole smelts with the purchase of Dungeness crab, along with an easy fried smelt recipe to complete the package.
Offer Wine Pairings
I always feel that local Bay Area Dungeness crab goes best with local Bay Area wine. Why not offer local wines for sale alongside the chilled crab, for the ultimate grab n’ go for customers?
Sparkling wine just happens to go excellently with crab–it’s also a definite requirement for a festive New Year’s party. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with a little J Vintage Brut or Brut Rose from the Russian River Valley. You could also offer Honig Sauvignon Blanc from Napa, which is crisp and refreshing, or the Etude Pinot Noir from Carneros, which offers deeper flavors of a red wine along with an acidity that keeps it from overwhelming the crab. Any or all of these wines can be stacked alongside your seafood case, and they all pair beautifully with any shellfish, especially crab.
You’re going to need a bounty of fresh wholesale Dungeness crabs to offer your customers the variety they need. We only offer the highest quality, local, sustainable Dungeness crabs at Pucci Foods. Our crabs are minimally handled and as fresh as you can get. Talk to us about placing an order for crab or whole fish for a lucky New Year’s Eve in the San Francisco Bay Area!