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 one of those flavor matches that will never get outdated.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.