Crab from Alaska — King, Dungeness, Snow — is just the kind of special occasion ingredient that creates a whole lot of buzz at holiday parties, and this succulent, slightly sweet crustacean shines brightest when cooks take a minimalist approach. It’s too good to dump a bunch of cocktail sauce on top, so here are a couple of appies with just a few ingredients. Super easy to throw together, just stand back and get ready for waves of compliments.
Inspired by starters I’ve eaten in Vietnamese restaurants, I gave snow crab legs — also known as opilio, especially for fans of Deadliest Catch — the Asian Lettuce Wrap treatment, but with a Northwest twist. I added chopped apples to the mix, which included thinly sliced shallots, a squeeze of lime juice and a couple of shakes of fish sauce. Garnish with snipped chives and serve alongside leaves of butter lettuce and that’s it. If you can score some shiso leaves, even better because they’re smaller, which makes for one crazy good bite.
Another appetizer that got rave reviews at a recent holiday gathering involved even fewer ingredients: Shishito peppers, olive oil, King crab and a squeeze of lemon juice.
These mild peppers are starting to show up more regularly in supermarkets, and they’re kind of addictive. I blister mine in a dry skillet over high heat, shaking the pan every couple of minutes until they’re slightly blackened. Then, olive oil is drizzled over the top. Just a little, not a lot. And the peppers are finished with salt and pepper. To plate this colorful red and green dish, I perched a chunk of King crab on top, showering it with lemon juice. The sweetness and ever-so-slight bit of heat from the peppers was a stellar complement to the crab meat. And speaking of complements, sparkling wine goes so well with these crabby snacks. A gorgeous Pinot noir Prosecco rose from Charles Smith Winery made every bite taste even better. Cheers!