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Mad Dog Crabs: Crab Prep 101

Mad Dog Crabs. Photo by Ian Locke, CNCLV

How about crab for dinner?

If you have a craving for live crab...

or prepared crab cakes...

or sweet smoked oysters...

or wild smoked salmon...

visit Mad Dog Crabs at 775 Canada Avenue.

Fresh fish finds. Photo by Ian Locke, CNCLV.

Owned and operated by former commercial fishers, Katie and Scott Mahon, Mad Dog Crabs has been in business for sixteen years.

Partners in business and life, Katie and Scott got their first taste of selling crabs at the Duncan Farmers’ Market. Business took off, and they quickly saw a need for a storefront.

Now they are one of the most popular seafood stores on Vancouver Island, supplying their loyal customers with seafood that is not only delicious, but sustainably fished.

In addition to providing the highest quality sustainable seafood available on the island, Mad Dog Crabs favors good old fashioned, human-to-human, customer-centric service.

Katie Mahon. Photo by Ian Locke, CNCLV

“Being able to tell people where their food comes from, and get them exactly what they want, then tell them how to make it -- those are the things people are looking for. And then they tell their friends. Word of mouth is important,” Katie says.

A big part of what the Mahons love about running their business is seeing families grow and change over the years. People who originally came in as children with their parents now come in with their own kids.

Building these relationships has led to some exciting business opportunities. Take the Mad Dog Crabs map. Posted on the wall of their store, the map is filled with pins marking where in the world their famous smoked salmon has been eaten, from parts of Europe to countries in Africa. Started ten years ago as a curiosity, the map is now a constant conversation piece. It even inspired one customer who travels regularly for work to make sure he brings salmon along to any obscure locations he visits on business trips, so he can add pins to the map!

Live crab. Photo by Ian Locke, CNCLV

Crab is Katie and Scott’s favorite item that they sell. In the spirit of good customer service, they’ve shared their top tips for crab care, below:


Live crab needs to be kept cool and damp 8-10 hours if possible in prime conditions.

Do not submerge in water, crab needs oxygen to breath!

Once a crab dies it must be cleaned within 2 hours before the meat deteriorates.

Cleaned, uncooked crab (gills removed, guts out) can be stored in fridge up to 24 hours before cooking.

Bring salted water to boil, then drop crab into pot.

A whole crab needs 12 minutes to cook. A cleaned crab needs only 7 minutes. If overcooked, run under cold water to stop cooking process.

We recommend for maximum freshness consume or freeze cooked crab within 2 days.

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