With the exception of a graduate school year spent living 17 Q-line stops away from Coney Island, I've never lived fewer than 250 miles from the ocean. Growing up in Ann Arbor, Mich. (631 miles), my seafood exposure was further limited by my mother's severe fish allergy: The only non-legged animals I sampled before high school were smoked sable and nova lox.
So my tenure in Seattle has been a remedial course in shellfish appreciation: With each successive harvest, I've learned more about the marine creatures living on or near Washington shores.
Now that we're in the thick of Dungeness crab season, I set out to find the city's best version of crab fried rice. I was first introduced to the concept of serving fried fresh crabs aboard pillowy rice with roasted pork while living in Dallas (291 miles), where the delicacy's a staple of Chinese restaurant menus and ambitious home cooks' repertoires.
I polled a few local seafood connoisseurs for crab fried rice destinations, and - after clarifying I wasn't seeking rice with little nubbins of cooked crab - was directed to Ho Ho Seafood Restaurant by seafood marketer Jon Rowley. The entree's not on the menu, but when I asked a server about crab fried rice, he immediately asked whether I was after Dungeness.
Ho Ho presents its crab fried rice on two separate platters, which is a shame, since the crab's slathered in a delectable ginger scallion sauce that I wish could have soaked into the slightly dry rice. The crab was cracked erratically - when I sent a photo to Rowley, he explained most Chinese restaurant kitchens crack their crabs raw, then cook them in a wok - but I'm becoming more adept with crackers. Still, the best element of the dish didn't require any tools: The custardy crab fat, or innards, was superb when mixed with the snappy, garlicky sauce.
Dungeness season is still underway, and I'm hoping to try more versions of crab fried rice. Have you found a restaurant that does the dish right? The comments section is open.