June in the land of the midnight sun is a special time of late night but still light fishing, camping and beach barbeque’s with friends and family. Officially the longest month of the Alaskan year it’s an incredible time. The salmon are flowing, sun is shining and Dungie crab season opens. I grew up in Petersburg working in the cannery and Dungie season was a huge teen rite of passage, where you had to be tough enough to endure a crab season in the cannery before taking on other jobs around town or on boats. It was grueling work, 12 hour shifts of back breaking, hand swelling work processing tote after tote of crab, hanging them on each others rain gear and other antics when your body has physically exhausted itself and you’re just looking for ways to get through till your next break, loud music and comedy always come into play. It was loud, sweaty, stinky and wet and what my girlfriends and I did for three weeks every June. Much like solstice rituals the word solstice is from the Latin word solstitium, from sol(sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice). It’s a time of celebrating the bounty of our long summer days, there is always time to sleep in the winter right? It’s time to grab some of my favorite vegetables and crustaceans and have a party, and you can too! Invite your friends over to help clean your crab, save your shells and melt into butter, whirl in the blender and strain thru cheesecloth and you’ll have amazing crab butter for the use all summer. Capture it’s essence and enjoy.

From my shell filled table to yours,


Amber King can be emailed at amberking907@gmail.com

Recipe: Dungeness Stuffed Artichokes

Serves 4 appetizers (sharing)

  • 2 large artichokes
  • 3 lemons
  • 1 large shallot – minced – about 3 tbs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons small capers (rinsed)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumb, plus 2 tbs for sprinkling(I make my own in the
  • blender from bread ends and season to taste)
  • 1/2 pound cleaned crabmeat
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used a Chilean Savignon Blanc)
  • pepper
  • olive oil to drizzle
  1. Cut the bottoms off the artichokes, as well as the tops. Trim the toughest outer leaves and clip off any remaining pokey things from the leaves. Rub all of the cut surfaces with the juice from one lemon as quickly as possible.
  2. Steam the artichokes until they are tender, then set them aside to cool.
  3. Mix together the shallot, mayo, juice from another lemon, capers, tarragon and bread crumb. Grind in some pepper then fold in the lump crabmeat, being careful not to break it up too much.
  4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop the innermost leaves and the choke out of the artichokes. Pull the leaves apart a bit to loosen them up. Fill the middle space with the crab mixture, then stuff the remaining crab down in among the leaves as much as you can until it is used up.
  5. Put the wine in a 9×9 pyrex (or other baking dish that will hold them snugly) then put the artichokes in. Sprinkle the 2 tbs of bread crumb on top, then drizzle each with olive oil, about 2 tbs per artichoke. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon over top.
  6. Bake them for 15 minutes, then baste them with the wine in the pan, using most of it up – it will soak into the bread crumbs. Continue baking until they are nice and crisp and brown on top.
  7. I served these by setting them in the middle of the table, handing out forks and knives and a leaf shuck bowl, and letting everyone have at them!