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Dec 21, 2006 04:48 PM

Sides to serve with crab legs

I'm trying to think of side dishes that would go well with crab legs at a Christmas Eve family gathering. Others are providing the crab.

In the past I've provided hor d'oeuvres like cheese, pate, savory crepes, and salads like a Nicoise. For this meal I am trying to think of finger foods (and dips) that would go well with the crab itself.


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  1. When we have cracked crab, artichokes seem to go particularly well - a whole eat-with-you-hands meal. Ditto for crusty bread, deviled eggs.

    You might think of an antipasto platter along the lines of your Nicoise salad. If you live in a very cold area, a pot of hot soup simmering on the back burner could also be welcome.

    Merry Christmas. Have a lovely meal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sherri

      That's exactly how we eat steamed Dungeness crab. We serve the whole crab for those you like the juicy bits sans the dead man's fingers of course.
      I make a dipping sauce of clarified butter with fresh lemon juice/zest. One small bowl full per couple. They don't seem to mind 'double dipping' between themselves. LOL
      Big white plastic picnic table cloth and rolled up hot hand towels under cover.
      Lots of cool not cold Pinot Gris.

    2. A friend and I just ate crab legs this weekend and we made twice-baked potatoes to go with it. I always seem to end up eating potatoes or artichokes when I eat crab legs.

      1 Reply
      1. re: alliebear

        +1, twice baked garlic mashed potatoes spiked with butter chunks and cheddar cheese baked in oiled boats or ramekins until brown crust forms on top and all around. Ceramic boats are a favorite for this. An option if have extra is to add crab meat into to the garlic mashed potatoes before bake.

        Another fun thing to bake crab in or eat in boats on the side with crab is a well executed macaroni and cheese.

        With crab my personal favorite is to simply dip boiled then chilled plain crab bites once extracted from the shell in a sauce and eat. Serve over ice to keep fresh - if smell ammonia do not eat. Make people break their own out of the shells give them a place to dispose of waste - if can make them eat over food grade brown paper rolled out is a nice trick many restaurants use for crab feasts. A favorite dip is a sauce cup of melted butter flavored with smashed with a knife fresh garlic chopped fine. Bites of plain cold Crab dipped in cocktail sauce is also tasty - where can make a decent version with catsup, horse radish, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Garlic butter is my favorite.

        Salad - crab is great on most salads for me especially one with thousand island. Crab Louie salads are very popular in many restaurants. I like regular greens and vegetables with hard boiled eggs, sliced olives, and copped pickles. Do on online search for Crab Louie for recipes and ideas.

        I like a seafood soup. Makes a little crab go far. But only add the lump crab at the end to not over-cook. Same as shrimp. Does not have to have crab and can eat on the side as something that goes with the crab. A cajun seafood chowder is a personal favorite Calico Jack's the chain known as CJ's (a Southern Oyster House chain that downsized possibly closed is where I first had it when living in Florida). Here is one version and can do an online search for others:

        Crab cakes when fried can be tasty when cooking left overs for yourself but very difficult to time the browning when cook for a crowd unless do in the oven and then timing critical to not overcook crab.

        What kind of crab makes a difference. A local favorite going on now is Dungeness so mostly what my recommendations are based on. Dungeness is especially great when catch then prepare fresh. The various Alaska King is some of the best. Also like Alaska opilio snow crab as find very tasty. Have liked Maryland blue crab when the best choice. Even lump crab out of a can is tasty sometimes. Possibly some of the best recipe ideas could depend on the kind of crab. Is sad for decades the best king crab varieties are mostly sold on the Tokyo fish market so not around America unless know someone.

        Omelets made with crab and melted cheese are very simple and tasty. I like to top with salsa and sour cream or simply sour cream with dill or chives.

        Baked stuffed fish is tasty. Try flounder, perch, crappie, halibut, or a thin mild firm fish folded stuffed in the middle with crab and cream cheese then topped with a dollop of butter baked in a buttered ceramic boat (or other oven safe dish or individual ramekin). Can also make with shrimp or even lobster if no crab. When have more fish than crab available this is a tasty seafood dish.

        Farly simple while tasty is crab with crunchy vegetables inside crepes covered in a cheese sauce. I like to heat onion, fresh smashed fine chopped garlic, and fine chopped celery, until begins to soften. Sometimes with a little thyme, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Remove from heat to add drained chopped water chestnuts and lump crab meat. So the filling is seasoned crunchy veggies with crab. For cheese sauce equal parts butter and flour to make a light brown roux then add heated milk and cheese you desire. For one stick butter use start with a half gallon of milk. Swiss is a good one. Or a blend with Swiss and Cheddar. Boil without scalding to thicken on low heat or will burn and end up with black bits do not scrape off bottom to minimize float.

        Spinach and crab can make a tasty warm dip. Here is one recipe:

        Could make plain boiled then iced dipped in sauces, crab Louie salad, Cajun seafood soup, crab cakes, twice baked potatoes, baked mac with cheese sauce, omelets, stuffed fish, a crab dip, and/or possibly crepes. A few ideas to consider for any crab-themed or seafood feast. Do realize this is an old thread, but is crab season and enjoy eating it so sharing ideas. Damn seafood is great stuff and try to catch then cook for my aging relatives often who so enjoy it (and write this because find is fun to share tasty recipes with younger generations early to in this case to create future seafood / crab cravers).

      2. I was going to suggest artichokes, too. My all-time favorite meal is a whole cracked crab and an artichoke, served with a dipping sauce made with a mix of dijon mustard, mayo, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a tad of dill.

        1. Any kind of steamed green vegetable seems to go well with crab, especially one that goes well with the melted butter you're presumably dipping it in. I second artichokes, but green beans, peas, maybe spinach would all work too.

          1. Its king crab season in Alaska! We almost never eat it with melted butter but prefer sauces such as:

            cocktail sauce - catsup, horseradish, lemon, worcestershire, pepper
            flavored mayos - add chipotle, tarragon or other sauces/herbs to mayo
            green goddess - mayo, garlic, parsley, anchovies

            For sides, I like veggies or salad to offset the richness of the crab. Artichokes, green beans, brussels, sauted spinach, warm spinach salad.


            4 Replies
            1. re: AlaskaChick

              That reminds me of a nouvo-Japanese topping for mussels - mayo flavored with hon-dashi, sriracha and fish roe. It might make a good dip for crab.


              1. re: AlaskaChick

                I like your sauce recipes! I never tried making them at home.

                1. re: AlaskaChick

                  My favorite sauce for crab and artichokes is cold hollandaise mixed with sour cream and a little mustard.

                  1. re: AlaskaChick

                    I'll never forget the time I visited my old roommate in Kenai. She picked me up at the airport, and told me that we needed to go to the best king crab restaurant in Kenai. So she pulls up to this funky old place that looked like a run-down Denny's and I thought 'oh hell' . She orders us up some beer battered king crab legs. I was thinking that it was a crime to batter king crab legs- much less a beer batter (I'm a seafood purist, since i get it so infrequently). Well, they were absolutely delicious. We went back two more times while I was there. We'd eat half when we were there and saved the other half for breakfast the next day. That was in the'70s, my friend had a crab pot that she caught king crab in at the time, near the Kenai peninsula.
                    Sorry, I had to stroll down memory lane. She says that the salmon are decreasing there, too. I thought that Alaska fish & game were on top of this, but apparently they are not.