This recipe, a delicious, easy-to-make alternative to crab cakes, showcases the sweet-saltiness of the West Coast’s favorite, Dungeness crab. The flavor of the dish is pleasantly complex without the recipe being complicated for the cook to make. We can say with assurance that the result is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

We’ve also included our recipe for an elegant, easy curry mayonnaise. If you’re in a crunch for time, simply substitute purchased mayonnaise and add curry powder to taste.

  • Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients (17)

For the crab salad:

  • 1 pound fresh, cleaned Dungeness crabmeat, drained of excess water
  • 1/2 Fuji apple, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1/2 stalk celery, cut into small dice
  • 1/2 European cucumber, seeds removed and cut into small dice, plus slices for topping
  • 1 shallot, cut into small dice
  • 1/4 bulb fennel, cut into small dice
  • 1 teaspoon fennel fronds (tops), finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons curry mayonnaise
  • Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste

For the curry mayonnaise:

  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste

To serve:

  • 1 cup spicy greens (such as arugula, mustard greens, or cress)


For the crab salad:

  1. In a large stainless steel bowl, combine crab, apple, celery, cucumber, shallot, fennel, and fennel fronds. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and mayonnaise, and gently fold ingredients together, trying not to break up the crab too much, until well combined and evenly covered with the mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper.

For the curry mayonnaise:

  1. Place the curry powder, egg yolk, and lemon juice in a small stainless steel bowl. Slowly whisk in oil until ingredients thicken and a creamy consistency is formed. If the consistency is too thick, slowly add small amounts of cold water until the mixture resembles a spreadable mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve:

  1. On a chilled plate, place crab salad on a bed of spicy greens and top with a spoonful of remaining curry mayonnaise and sliced European cucumbers.

Advance preparation: The mayonnaise may be made ahead and kept in a sealed container for several days in the refrigerator. The recipe yields more curry mayonnaise than needed for the crab salad, but it’s a special treat to have on hand. The extra mayonnaise makes a delicious spread for sandwiches.

Substitutions and options: Jonah crab is the best substitute in this recipe because it has a similar sweetness and appearance to Dungeness crab. If substituting lump meat from blue crab, the salad will have a more buttery flavor and a less stringy texture. This is not a bad thing, just different.

You may substitute other sweet apple varieties, like McIntosh or Delicious, but do not use tart varieties such as Granny Smith. The additional sourness will throw off the balance of flavors.

Beverage pairing: Choose a Riesling with crisp acidity and hints of green apple and citrus. Recommended: 2001 Holloran Winery, “La Pavillon,” Riesling, Willamette Valley, Oregon; or Pikes Riesling, Clare Valley, South Australia.