This recipe is simple and elegant, making it an ideal choice for a quick lunch and a fancy dinner party.
The combination of tender crab meat with the creamy richness of avocado and fluffy quinoa is accented by a hint of lemon.
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Honestly, when I first tasted this dish, I was a little shocked. It was one of those moments when you go? Did it turn out that good? Promise, yes!
This would be a great date night dinner plan. Add a little white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc, and you're set.
Quinoa, often hailed as a "superfood," is a gluten-free seed that's commonly used as a substitute for rice and other grains. Originating from South America and known as "the mother grain" by the Inca, quinoa has gained immense popularity worldwide for its nutritional benefits.
Nutritionally, quinoa is a powerhouse. It's a high-protein, low-fat option, naturally gluten-free, and rich in fiber. It also provides key vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins and magnesium.
A cup of cooked quinoa typically contains about 222 calories, 39 grams of carbs, 8 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat, and 5 grams of fiber.
How To Clean The Crab
Cleaning crab, especially Snow Crab, requires a bit of technique to ensure you get the meat out in one piece, which is essential for a fine dining presentation.
Here's a step-by-step guide:
- Disconnect the Legs: Start by disconnecting all four legs. Place your thumbs between each joint and gently pull them apart. The legs should come apart quite easily.
- Remove Both Ends: Begin with the knuckle end. The goal is to extract the meat in one piece, so take your time with this step.
- Use a Fork for Assistance: To open the shell, use a fork like you would open a letter. This method works incredibly well and helps in keeping the meat intact.
- Extract Meat from the Claw: The claw contains a sweet piece of meat that's worth the effort. The shell here is a bit harder, so be patient and gentle as you extract the meat.
- Don't Forget the Smaller Sections: Many people overlook the meat in the smaller sections of the crab legs. Pinch these sections from different directions, and then gently pull out the meat.
- Patience is Key: Remember, extracting crab meat, especially for a fine dining presentation, takes a bit of work and patience. Take your time to ensure the meat comes out in one piece.
Removing the crab meat in whole pieces is a great way to improve the presentation of quinoa crab salad.
In the video, I will show you the "secret" hidden crabmeat many folks do not even know is there. Check it out!
Watch How To:
- Quinoa: The base, providing a nutty flavor and fluffy texture.
- Snow Crab Cluster: Sweet, delicate meat; shells enhance the stock.
- Shallot: Adds a mild, slightly sweet onion flavor.
- Lemon: For a fresh, citrusy zest and tang.
- Saffron Pistols: Imparts a unique aroma and golden color.
- Grape Tomatoes: Juicy and sweet, adding freshness.
- Walnuts, Pistachios, Sliced Almonds: Crunchy texture and rich flavor.
- Jalapeno: Adds a spicy kick to the salad.
- Avocado Crema Ingredients:
- 1 Avocado: Creamy texture and rich, buttery taste.
- Vanilla Yogurt: Creaminess with a hint of sweetness.
- 2 Grape Tomatoes: For extra freshness in the crema.
- Squeeze of Lemon: Brightens the crema with citrus notes.
- 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar: Adds a subtle tanginess.
- Pinch of Salt: Enhances overall flavors.
- Basil for garnish: Aromatic touch to finish the dish.
Watch How To Make
Prepare the Crab Stock
- Begin by melting 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium-sized pot over medium/high heat.
- Add half of a finely chopped shallot, sweating it for about 1 minute.
- Next, add the crab shells to the pot and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, allowing them to release their flavors.
- Pour in 2 cups of water, and add the saffron and lemon peel slices (3 to 4 pieces). This will form the base of your flavorful stock.
- Simmer for at least 15 minutes, up to one hour to release maximum flavor from the crab shells.
How to Prepare the Quinoa
Ah, quinoa! This little seed, often mistaken for a grain, is a powerhouse of nutrition and a versatile base for so many delightful dishes. Let's embark on the journey of cooking quinoa to perfection, ensuring it's just right for your next culinary creation.
Rinse the Quinoa
First things first, rinse quinoa.
Place it in a fine mesh strainer and run cold water over it. This isn't just a rinse for cleanliness; it's crucial for taste! Quinoa naturally has a coating called saponin, which can give it a bitter or soapy flavor if not washed off. A thorough rinse ensures your quinoa is primed for deliciousness.
Now, onto the cooking! The magic ratio here is 2:1 - two parts liquid to one part quinoa. This is your canvas to get creative. Plain water works fine, but why not jazz it up? Vegetable broth or chicken broth can add an extra layer of flavor, turning your quinoa from plain to piquant.
Cooking the Quinoa
- Combine 1 cup of rinsed quinoa with 2 cups of your chosen liquid in a saucepan. This is where the transformation begins.
- Add flavoring ingredients, if desired, like lemon juice, lemon peel, shallots, and chicken broth.
- Bring this duo to a boil over medium-high heat. Watch as the quinoa begins to dance in the bubbling liquid.
- Once boiling, it's time to turn down the heat. Reduce it to low, cover the saucepan with a lid, and let the quinoa simmer. This is its time to absorb, to fluff up, taking about 15 minutes. Patience is key; good things take time.
Make the Avocado Crema
- In a food processor or a mixing bowl, combine the avocado, apple cider vinegar, grape tomatoes, and sliced almonds to your taste preference.
- Add a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt.
- Pulse or mix until you achieve a creamy, smooth consistency.
Assemble the Crab Salad
- In a large bowl, gently mix the cooked quinoa with chopped pistachios, sliced almonds, walnuts, and minced jalapeno for a bit of heat (optional).
- Add finely chopped shallot for an extra layer of flavor.
- For texture and freshness, slice grape tomatoes into quarters and fold them into the salad last to maintain their shape and juiciness.
- Place whole pieces of the crab on top of the plated crab salad. Warm up the crab in warm melted butter.
- Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning as needed. This is your chance to perfect the balance of flavors (TSA - Taste, Season, Adjust).
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves for a pop of color and an aromatic finish.
- Plate the salad beautifully, adding a dollop or swirl of the avocado crema on top or on the side, depending on your presentation preference.
How long can I store the leftover crab salad?
Freshness first! Store your leftover Crab Salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator and enjoy it within 1-2 days. Beyond that, the salad may lose its vibrant flavors and textures.
Can I freeze Crab Salad?
Freezing is not recommended. The texture of the crab and avocado may change, and the freshness of the salad will be compromised. It's best enjoyed fresh!
Can I use canned crab meat instead of fresh crab?
Absolutely! While fresh crab meat offers a distinct flavor and texture, the canned crab can be a convenient and budget-friendly alternative. Just remember to drain it well before using it.
Can I opt for imitation crab?
Certainly! Imitation crab is a wallet-friendly and tasty alternative that works perfectly in this salad. The difference is that you will not have fresh crab shells to make the homemade crab stock.
Crab Salad with Avocado Crema Recipe
- 3 clusters Snow Crab Reserve the Shells for the stock
Saffron Crab Stock
- 3 clusters Snow Crab Shells
- 10 pistols Saffron
- 1 diced Shallot
- 1 peel Lemon remove half of the exterior peel and place into stock pot.
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
The Quinoa Ingredients
- 1 cup Quinoa
- 2 cups Crab Stock
Avocado Crema Ingredients
- 2 whole Avocadoes
- 5 teaspoon Vanilla Yogurt
- ½ whole Jalapeno Remove seeds.
- 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- ½ cup Grape Tomatoes
- ½ cup Walnuts Pistachios, Slice Almonds.
- 8 sliced Grape Tomatoes
Finishing and Garnish
- chiffonade Basil
- Squeeze Lemon Juice
- De-Shell the Crabmeat ( keep the shells for the stock )
Make the Stock
- In a medium-sized pot, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium/high heat.Add diced shallot and sweat for 1 minute.Add crab shells and cook for 2-3 minutes to release flavor.Add 2 cups of water, saffron, and lemon peel. Simmer to develop flavors.
Cooking The Quinoa
- Combine 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of your chosen liquid in a saucepan. This is where the transformation begins.Bring this duo to a boil over medium-high heat. Watch as the quinoa begins to dance in the bubbling liquid.Once boiling, it's time to turn down the heat. Reduce it to low, cover the saucepan with a lid, and let the quinoa simmer. This is its time to absorb, to fluff up, taking about 15 minutes. Patience is key; good things take time.
- In a food processor or mixing bowl, combine avocados, vanilla yogurt, jalapeno, apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of salt.Pulse until smooth and creamy.
Assemble the Salad
- In a large bowl, mix cooked quinoa with nuts, jalapeno, and shallot.Add grape tomatoes, both whole and sliced, adjusting the quantity to taste.Season with a squeeze of lemon juice and adjust flavors as needed (TSA - Taste, Season, Adjust).
- Quality of Ingredients: The freshness of the crab is key to this dish. If using fresh crab, ensure it's of good quality. For a quicker alternative, canned crab can be used, but make sure to drain and fluff it well.
- Flavor Infusion in Quinoa: Cooking quinoa in the crab stock is a game-changer. It infuses the quinoa with a rich, savory flavor that complements the crab perfectly. Don't rush this step; good stock is the foundation of this dish's flavor.
- Balancing the Crema: The avocado crema should be creamy but not overpowering. Adjust the acidity with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to find the perfect balance that complements the crab and quinoa.
- Texture Play: The combination of different textures – the fluffiness of quinoa, the crunch from the nuts, and the creaminess of the avocado – makes this dish stand out. Pay attention to the chopping size of your ingredients to maintain this delightful contrast.
- Seasoning is Key: Season your salad carefully. The right amount of salt will enhance the flavors without overpowering the delicate taste of the crab.
- Presentation Matters: Take a moment to plate your dish thoughtfully. The visual appeal of your Crab Salad can elevate the dining experience.
- Pairing with Wine: A glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc or a light Pinot Grigio pairs beautifully with this dish, complementing its flavors and making it an ideal choice for a sophisticated dining experience.