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Plenty to crab about

onetallchef, Wikimedia Commons

Dip some crusty French or Italian bread into a bowl of warm and savory crab dip.


While I realize that Dungeness crabs are not to be found in most stores at this time (unless frozen), I still have a craving for them. I also dearly love Alaskan king crab legs, but I miss the large ones I used to be able to buy just about anywhere that had a seafood counter.

Now all I can find are the much smaller ones, that while still labeled as Alaskan king crab, are usually just a fraction of the size I was used to buying some years ago. And a lot more painful to handle, with those thorn-like protrusions.

One thing that confuses me is that these smaller crabs used to be labeled Royal Red, and when labels had to include country of origin, the country was often listed as Russia. Then I started seeing Royal Reds listed as sourced from USA, and after that, the labels now just say Alaskan king crab. So, I am less than certain about what I am buying when I go crab shopping, as there are a lot of different types of king crabs.

People tell me at least one big-box chain store sells the very large crab legs at a seafood kiosk on certain Fridays, but I am no longer a member, so I don’t know for sure.

Anyway, when I am able to locate some crab legs, I prefer to heat them up and eat the meat as simply as possible, perhaps dipped in melted butter. When I buy crab meat that has already been shelled, I turn to recipes such as the following.

If you love crab, I hope you find something here that pleases your taste buds.

Crab artichoke dip

You can use marinated artichokes or plain, as you prefer.

1 package (8-oz.) cream cheese, softened

1 cup mayonnaise

3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

About 1 1/2 cups (or a little more) artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped

2 cloves or more garlic, crushed

2 cups lump crab meat

2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, stir together cream cheese, mayonnaise, 1/2 cup of the Monterey Jack cheese, Parmesan cheese, artichoke hearts, garlic, crab meat, green onions and Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper.

2. Transfer mixture to a 10- or 12-inch oven-safe skillet and sprinkle with remaining Monterey Jack cheese. Bake until golden and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Crab enchiladas

I shared this recipe a little more than a year ago, but decided it was worth a repeat.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

8 ounces lump crab meat

10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cups enchilada sauce

10 flour tortillas, 7 or 8 inches in diameter

1. Preheat oven to 350. Pour oil into a 10- or 12-inch frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and jalapenos. Cook, stirring often, until onion is limp, about 5 to 8 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, mix crab, spinach, 2 cups of cheese, parsley, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cayenne and onion mixture.

3. Spread about 3/4 cup of the enchilada sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the crab mixture along the center of each tortilla, rolling tortilla around filling. Arrange filled tortillas in a single layer over the sauce. Top evenly with remaining sauce and cheese.

4. Bake in preheated oven until cheese is browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let cool for at least 5 minutes. Makes 10 enchiladas.

Crab bisque

3 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons flour

4 cups fish stock, or vegetable broth

1 cup dry white wine

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 pound lump crab meat

Fresh, chopped parsley, for garnish

1. In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and Old Bay, then stir in garlic and tomato paste. Cook until garlic is fragrant and tomato paste coats vegetables, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle over flour and cook until absorbed, 1 minute more.

2. Pour in seafood stock and wine, then stir in bay leaf. Reduce heat and let simmer until liquid is reduced and flavors meld, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

3. Remove bay leaf and puree soup with an immersion blender on high until very smooth. Return to medium low heat and stir in heavy cream and half of the crab meat. Cook until just warmed through, about 5 minutes.

4. Divide among bowls and garnish with remaining crab meat and parsley before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Avocado crab boats

Can be served hot or cold. Can also be made with cooked shrimp.

5 medium ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and halved

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cans (6 ounces each) lump crabmeat, drained (or 12 ounces fresh crab meat)

4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided

2 tablespoons minced chives

1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced, optional

1 tablespoon capers, drained

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Lemon wedges

1. Preheat broiler. Place 2 avocado halves in a large bowl; mash lightly with a fork. Add mayonnaise and lemon juice; mix until well blended. Stir in crab, 3 tablespoons cilantro, chives, serrano pepper, capers and pepper. Spoon into remaining avocado halves.

2. Transfer to a 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with cheese and paprika. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro; serve with lemon wedges. Makes 8 servings.



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