Garlic-Roasted Whole Dungeness Crab & Arugula-Fennel Salad


2 whole Dungeness crabs, cooked
½ cup minced fresh garlic
¼ cup minced fresh ginger
1 cube unsalted butter
½ cup minced white or yellow onion
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup Artesa Chardonnay
Juice of 1 lemon

For the arugula-fennel salad (serves 6 easily):
4 cups baby arugula (see Chef’s Tips), lightly packed
2 cups fennel bulb, stems removed, bulbs cut in half, cores removed, shaved thin
1 avocado, pit removed, cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 tablespoons pistachios, or any other nut you like
3 to 4 tablespoons cilantro-lime vinaigrette, or more to taste

For the cilantro-lime vinaigrette (yields 3 cups):
1 cup honey
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons lime juice, fresh-squeezed
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons cilantro, leaves only, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic clove, minced
¼ cup fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup extra light olive oil

Suggested Wine Pairing: Codorníu Napa Grand Reserve Sparkling Wine


Serves 3 - 4

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Hold the crab firmly with one hand and pull the shell off with your other hand. Rinse the crab under cold water into a strainer to catch the guts. Keep rinsing until you have removed most of the guts. Having some left at this point is OK.

Grasp the legs in both hands and lift up, which will snap the crab in half. You will have half of a crab in either hand. Rinse any remaining guts out.

Lay the half crabs on a firm surface and with a cleaver or heavy knife cut between the legs to separate into 10 legs and claws. Use the back side of the cleaver or knife (the non-cutting part) to smack each leg and joint gently to slightly expose the flesh of the crab. This will help the butter mixture to permeate the meat.

Place a stove-top-safe roasting pan over medium heat. Combine the garlic, ginger, butter, onion, salt, red chili flakes and black pepper in the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often, until the garlic, ginger and onions are softened. Don’t brown the mixture. Add the crab sections and stir well to coat all of the legs. Put into the oven and roast for about 12 to 15 minutes until the shells are lightly browned and take on a "roasty" look. Stir the garlic-butter mixture over the crab several times during the roasting process -nothing fancy; just stir the crab and the garlic-butter mixture together so the crab is well coated as it roasts. Everyone’s oven cooks differently, so cooking times may vary.

When the crab is golden brown, remove, and add the Chardonnay and lemon juice to the roasting pan. Stir the mixture well and return to the oven for 4 to 5 minutes to heat the mixture through.

To prepare the arugula-fennel salad (serves 6 easily):

To make the salad, simply place all the ingredients in a bowl and toss well to coat all of the leaves with the vinaigrette. You can easily adjust the amount of dressing by starting with 3 to 4 tablespoons and adding more if you like.

Serve this salad with the garlic-roasted whole Dungeness crab, and you will see how the tart, sweet notes, coupled with the complex flavors of the fennel and arugula, work fabulously well against the rich, buttery finish the crab provides.

To prepare the cilantro-lime vinaigrette (yields 3 cups):

Combine all the ingredients, except the two olive oils, in a blender. Turn on high and blend for about 1 minute until smooth.

Turn the blender to medium-high speed, and with the lid off, drizzle the oils slowly into the mixture. This will thicken and emulsify it.

Immediately pour the mixture into a storage container, cover, and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or, if possible, overnight. The dressing needs to be well chilled.

To serve:

Enjoy the crab paired with arugula-fennel salad.

To serve the salad, mound it in your favorite salad bowl, pulling some avocado slices and nuts up to the top for garnish.

Return the crab to the roasting pan just before serving. To serve, place the pan on the table, and dig in. Be sure to provide a bowl to put the shells in; it’d better be a big bowl for all to share.

You can use crab crackers and picks to get at the meat as you would do for traditional cooked crab. You’ll be licking your fingers over this recipe.

Serve warm, crusty bread for dipping into the roasting pan juices. You’ll want every bite.

Chef's Tip:

Baby arugula is now available ready to eat in most warehouse stores and some of your local grocery stores. With its slight bitterness and peppery finish, it’s a great addition to salads.

Fennel, also called anise because of its licorice-like qualities, is available in all grocery stores. It’s best shaved on an inexpensive Japanese mandoline available in most Asian markets. If one is not available, slice the fennel as thinly as you can with a sharp knife.