Let me start by saying, “Sorry, rest of the country,” as this is a decidedly West Coast Dungeness crab salad.
While most of the rest of the nation deals with snow and ice, here in California, our winter bounty is bursting: Dungeness crab, persimmons, pomegranates, avocados, citrus. This recipe has it all.
Crab, for most, is a summer thing. It was for me, too, until I moved to California in 2004. I soon learned that crab here is a fall and winter thing, and what’s more, it is traditional — even required in some families — for Dungeness crab to be eaten at Thanksgiving and Christmas, normally Christmas Eve.
I grew up in New Jersey, where the Feast of the Seven Fishes is a thing, so this sat well with me. I’d definitely dish up some crab for the holidays.
After a recent crabbing trip outside the Golden Gate, I had my limit of 10 Dungeness crabs, and was thinking about how to use them as I sat in bumper-to-bumper Bay Area traffic. A Dungeness crab salad immediately came to mind.
I happen to love crab this way, but I normally do a sort of Mexican route. This would be something different. So I started thinking about what’s in the farmer’s markets now. Pomegranates, persimmons, citrus, avocados… well, it all just fell together.
Avocado and crab is a classic. Pomegranate and persimmon is a classic. Turns out they all play well together, sauces with lots of fresh citrus juice and California olive oil.
This Dungeness crab salad is a winner. Seriously. If you can manage to collect the ingredients for it, I highly recommend you try this. It’s one of the best things I’ve posted to this space in a long while.
It’s only drawback is that this is not a good salad for long keeping. It’s best freshly made, although I have eaten leftovers the following day and it was OK.
Dungeness Crab Salad
- 3 or 4 lemons or limes
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced very thin
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 firm fuyu persimmon, peeled and diced
- 2 avocados, skinned and diced
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils, about 1/4 of a pomegranate
- 3/4 pound crabmeat
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil (use the good stuff)
- Zest one or two of the lemons with a fine grater. I use a microplane. Put the zest into a large bowl. Juice all the citrus into the bowl and add the sliced shallot. Let this marinate while you cut everything else.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and gently mix to combine. Serve as-is, or in hot corn tortillas, or on crackers or tortilla chips.