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THE VERSATILE CRAB SALAD
  |  First Published: December 2010



This is an absolutely delicious fresh crab salad that can be served to your diners in a variety of presentations.

The salad is rich with crabmeat that is held together with a little dressing; just the way a good crab salad should be (rather than lots of dressing with only a small amount of crab).

In the following is the recipe for cooking the crabs, the basic crab salad and then some options for presentation.

Cooking Crabs

Place the green crabs into the freezer for about 20 minutes to ‘anaesthetise’ them. You can either clean the crabs before or after the cooking process, whichever is easiest for you.

You will need a large pot of boiling water. It’s better to use genuine saltwater, otherwise add a couple of tablespoons of salt to tap water. I have found that a touch of sugar to the crab cooking water also adds a delicious flavour.

When the water in your crab cooking pot has come to a good rolling boil, carefully add the crabs to the pot and be careful not to splash yourself. The water in the pot will go off the boil when you add the crabs so only time the crab cooking from when the water comes back to the boil. Cook the sand crabs for about 8 minutes, and the mud crab for about 15 minutes. A general guide is approximately 8 minutes per kilogram.

Have a kitchen sink or tub ready with icy water in it ready for the crabs when they have finished cooking. This will stop the crabs from being over cooked. Then place them in the fridge to completely cool down.

Basic Crab Salad Recipe

I have used the meat from two or three sand crabs in the ingredients for this recipe but you can substitute a mud crab if you prefer. The flavour will be different but the concept is the same.

When you pick the meat from the crabs, take care to ensure that no shell sneaks its way into the flesh. It happens, but it is annoying to crunch a piece of shell when eating your salad.

Ingredients

2-3 sand crab meat

1/3 cup sour cream or crème fraiche

1 tablespoon good quality mayonnaise

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

2 tbsp chopped chives

A splash of Tabasco sauce

Steps

Use a glass or porcelain bowl when making this crab salad. Anything that has an acidic ingredient such as vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice in a metallic bowl can result in a strangely metal taste to the food.

Combine the sour cream (or crème fraiche), mayonnaise, juice, coriander, chives and Tabasco sauce in a bowl. Don’t be concerned if the crab salad dressing seems to be a little runny as it will firm up when you put it into the fridge.

Add the crab meat to the dressing and combine carefully to avoid breaking up the crab meat too much.

Pop the bowl of crab meat into your fridge to firm up until you are ready to assemble your salad.

Presentation

There are several options for presenting your crab salad:

(1) Slice some beautifully ripe red tomatoes into three thick slices. Place the bottom slices onto individual serving plates and top with a heaped tablespoon of crab salad. Then build a stack; top the salad with another slice of tomato and then top that with some more crab salad. Place the top slice of the tomato on top of the crab salads and drizzle the whole tomato tower with a small amount of fruity extra virgin olive oil.

(2) Use the crab salad as a dip with plain flavoured corn chips, crackers or toast quarters.

(3) Make a delicious fresh tasting parcel of the crab salad using small lettuce leaves, such as cos. Place individual lettuce leaves onto a serving platter and add a tablespoon of the crab salad to each leaf.

(4) Wrap small amounts of the crab salad into rice paper rolls and serve with a little chilli sauce for dipping. Soak the rice paper until they are soft. Place the soaked rice paper onto a clean tea towel to absorb any excess water before placing a small amount of the salad onto the rice paper. Wrap the whole thing up like a parcel. Repeat for as many rice paper rolls as you care to serve.

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