I love eating locally and seasonally as much as the next cook, but this time of year, I’m grateful I have easy access to some of the West Coast’s incredible ingredients. Last weekend, I found freshly cooked Dungeness crabs. They’d be perfect with those pink-fleshed Cara Cara oranges I had just bought, I thought. I’ll add olive oil, some flaky salt. The first course for the dinner I was hosting was done and done. Except no.
At the last minute, I decided to warm the crab in a bit of butter and perk it up with a little lime juice, zest and chile. The next day, I had so much crab left over that I made the salad again, this time with Meyer lemon instead of lime. The contrasts in the dish—warm with cold and rich butter with bright citrus—were unexpected and brought this combo to a whole other level. This is now my go-to salad any time I’m lucky enough to come into some Dungeness crabs.
- 2 large citrus fruits, such as Cara Cara oranges, grapefruits, naval oranges or a mix of these
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 Dungeness crab, meat picked (about 1 cup) or 4 ounces lump crab meat
- 1 lime or Meyer lemon
- Pinch of mild gound chile, such as Piment d'Espellette or paprika
- Flaky salt, for sprinkling
- Microgreens or arugula leaves, optional, for garnish
- Using a sharp knife, cut the rind and all of the bitter white pith off the citrus fruits. Set each fruit on its side and cut into rounds. Halve the rounds if they're large. Arrange the citrus on a plate in a single layer; cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.
- In a medium skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the crab and cook, stirring, until just heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons of lime or lemon juice and a pinch of the zest. Season with ground chile and salt, if necessary.
- Sprinkle the citrus with flaky salt. Arrange the warm crab on top and garnish with microgreens, if desired. Serve immediately.