11 October 2010

Crab canapés

Growing up by the sea has distinct advantages.

The salt-seaweed-shellfish smell, the funny feeling when you poke an anemone, a slip on kelp-covered rocks and hands bleeding with barnacle cuts—all of these things are tied up in my childhood.

(Picture taken by my cousin José)

We drove past the harbor whenever we went, well, anywhere. On a lucky day, we would see a piece of plywood propped at the entrance with a dripping orange spray-paint sign: HALIBUT $4/LB, and I've never quite forgiven a close family friend for bringing us King Crab straight off his boat the same day I had my wisdom teeth removed.

If you are every lucky enough to visit Juneau, Alaska, make sure you go to Jerry's Meats. Nestled in an industrial area behind the wetlands and near Lemon Creek, Jerry's does a fine business smoking and packing everything the locals bring in, from halibut to moose. Luckily for the rest of us, they also sell a wide variety of fresh and frozen seafood and meats. Every time I go to Juneau I stock up with a styrofoam box full of halibut, King, and the best smoked Sockeye salmon you'll find—but I never have enough room left for Jerry's famous crab dip.

butter crackers

I've seen all sorts of recipes for hot crab dip online, but this dip is from a different world. It tastes like something you would find on a canapé platter from 1957: creamy and delicately flavored, it pairs equally well with crusty bread or a buttery table cracker.

Good articifical crab (or "krab," as it once was called) is not to be scorned—made properly, it's better in dip than real crab. Besides, who wants to take that carefully-extracted crab meat and mash it all up? Still, if you have a source of cheap crab or are prepping half a dozen for freezing, it's worth tossing the little bits in a bowl and making up some of this dip.

crab dip

Cold Crab Dip
Inspired by Jerry's Meats

Note: if you choose to use artificial crab, please take a look at the ingredients and buy the most environmentally-friendly variety you can find. Many varieties of articifical crab are made with overfished or farmed varieties; Wild Alaskan Pollock is a good-tasting, well-managed fish (listed as a "good alternative" on the Seafood Watch website).

5 oz real or artificial crab, cooked and chilled (or frozen and thawed)
¼ cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon fresh dill, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
lemon juice (optional)

Place the crab in a medium bowl and shred it into small pieces with two forks.

Add the cream cheese and mayonnaise and mix well to combine. Add the celery salt, fresh dill, and black pepper. Mix well, taste, and add salt and/or lemon juice as needed.

Serve with bruschette, warm crusty bread, or crackers.

Makes a scant 2 cups


  1. "Krab" hehe. I totally agree, it would be sacrilege to use fresh crab meat. I've never made crab dip but I bet I'd love it - I make a crab and mayonnaise filling for sandwiches which is the same sort of thing I suppose...It's great that you remind us about choosing an ethical variety ^_^

  2. I loved your comment on my blog. I really want to know more about how your mom did the whole food thing. I hate the battle.

  3. I get care packages with Jerry's bacon. It's probably 3/16" thick and does more curl than shrink up. An easy winner...

    And yes, I'm alive. And just in time for the big 28. Expect more from me real soon.

  4. Da - I posted more details on your blog :)

    Carrick - And a (late) happy birthday to you! We thought about buying some bacon when we were in Juneau in August (I just started eating meat in March after 9 years without), but I wanted to save room for fish.

    We have to catch up - I miss you!