I can’t remember ever craving crab. I’ve eaten it all my life. I even remember eating talangka (ta-lang-kah), tiny shore crab–whose bodies don’t get much bigger than a silver dollar–during my short time in the Philippines. If I remember correctly, they’re prized not for their meat but for their fat. Crab fat is a delicacy in the Philippines and is often sold separately in jars. It’s served as a condiment or enhancer and is always eaten with rice and other seafood (if not crab).
As much as I’ve always enjoyed its buttery freshness, I never enjoyed picking out the meat from steamed crab. My parents were great about doing it for me and my sisters when we were kids but as an adult I learned to buy the already-cooked meat for my crab cakes. I’ll be honest: I can’t bring myself to throw a live crab into a pot of boiling water so I buy them already cooked.
But since putting together this recipe and falling in love with it, I’ve actually found myself craving the crustacean and not even minding shelling it myself. I’d even dare say that I find it relaxing to try to pick all the meat out of the legs and cavities, almost as relaxing as kneading dough.
So when the craving hit last week I picked up two, whole cooked Dungeness Crab for the pasta dish I’ve grown to love. But as things go, I never got around to preparing a batch of fresh pasta. I shelled the crab and put together this salad instead out of ingredients I already had. Arugula was our salad green of choice last week (it changes weekly) and I still had avocados and limes from the Mexican food I’ve been serving.
This is a no-frills salad with nothing but arugula and red onion tossed in a dressing of avocado, lime, cilantro and olive oil. But loaded with fresh crab meat–I used the meat of a 1 1/2 pound crab–you would hardly find this salad lacking. Served with crusty bread and a glass of wine this would make for a refreshing summer lunch or light dinner.
- ***For the Salad***
- 1 whole cooked crab (1 – 1½ pounds), shelled or store-bought fresh crab meat
- 2-3 cups fresh baby arugula
- ⅓ red onion, thinly sliced
- ***For the Dressing (this should be good for up to 3-4 servings)
- 1 avocado
- 1-2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
- 2 Tablespoons – ¼ cup olive oil (according to your taste)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the dressing by mashing the avocado in a bowl. Stir in the lime juice and continue to mash until well-blended. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Whisk in the olive oil and set aside.
- To assemble the salad, toss the onion, the crab meat (reserving a few large pieces to top the salad) and the arugula in a large bowl with the dressing, plate and serve.