When planning my New Year’s Eve menu, I really wanted to include crab. It’s such a classic dish to have at this time of year! After a little thinking, I decided to serve Dungeness crab meat tossed with a citrus vinaigrette in a cocktail glass. Voila! The crab cocktail with tangerine tarragon vinaigrette. I served it over a bed of shaved fresh fennel, and garnished with fennel fronds. It looked beautiful and tasted fresh and delicious. I think this dish is a perfect opener for any winter meal.
I worried about being able to get Dungeness crab…here in San Francisco, there has been a toxin in the waters that is present in the crabs, and if eaten, can cause pretty severe illness. So crab season is off this year in the Bay Area. Fortunately, my local grocer was able to get crab from Washington state. Whew!
When making this recipe, you can of course remove the crab meat from the shells yourself. If you’re lucky enough to have a local grocer or seafood provider that does it for you, all the better. Make sure you keep the crab meat refrigerated right up until the time you will serve it so that it’s served nice and chilled. This recipe serves 4 people as an appetizer.
2 sweet tangerines, like Satsuma
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
12 oz fresh Dungeness crab meat
1 small fresh fennel bulb, fronds removed and set aside for garnish
Make the vinaigrette first. Juice the tangerines, removing any seeds and put in a bowl or measuring cup. Add the tarragon, sugar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper and whisk with a fork until blended. Continue whisking and gradually drizzle in the oil. When fully blended, either add the drab meat or pour the vinaigrette over the crab in a bowl. Mix well, taste for seasoning, and adjust as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To assemble, use a mandolin to very thinly shave the fennel bulb. Place about 1/4 cup of shaved fennel in the bottom of 4 martini glasses. Gently pile the crab meat on top of the fennel, and garnish each serving with the reserved fennel fronds, and serve.
Bon appétit, and happy new year!