January 20, 2010

still in the midst of dungeness crab season

At Whole Foods this past weekend, we saw a "weekend special" of fresh, cooked whole dungeness crab from Oregon for $3.99/lb, 50% off their regular price. Two things: (1) I usually like to get live crab from the local Asian market and cook it at home myself, and (2) I'm wary of "weekend specials," especially for highly perishable seafood... but these crab looked fantastic, and at that price, it was super convenient and no more expensive.

It reminded me that we're in the midst of dungeness crab season, one of my favorite times of year. There's nothing quite like the ethereal sweetness of fresh cracked crab---no garnish, no condiments, not even drawn butter is needed when the crab is at its peak.

But when I do want to dress it up a bit, it's hard to beat the simplicity of a crab and avocado salad... one of those flavor matches that will never get outdated. Add just a couple of other ingredients like the acidic sweetness and striking visuals of blood oranges, a bit of shallot and red pepper to add complementary dimensions to the flavor, and a light dressing to tie it all together.

Simple Crab Salad

1 cup fresh dungenesse crab meat, cooked
1 small avocado, diced
1/4 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup diced celery
2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
1 red pepper, finely diced
1 blood orange, cut into supremes (save peel for zest)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon nuac cham
salt and white pepper, to taste
a few sprigs of cilantro (optional)

To assemble and serve:

Whisk olive oil and sesame oil with rice wine vinegar and nuac cham. Add finely diced shallot and allow to marinate for at least 3 minutes to soften the flavor of the raw shallot. Set aside.

If using freshly cooked crab, crack and remove the meat from the claw, legs and body. In a mixing bowl, gently combine crab meat, avocado, cucumber, celery and red pepper. Add blood orange supremes, zest and any juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Place a small ring mold in center of a bowl and fill with crab salad. Top with extra blood orange supremes or cilantro and finish with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


  1. This makes me want to go out and buy dungeness crab right now!

  2. I'm a big fan of crab too! Have't had a lot of it this season (just once) so I have to remedy that by making your salad. Looks simple but elegant (and probably healthier than crab cakes!).