What’s a little fakery between friends?
"I used to make a ‘mock’ crab salad containing crab, cubed bread, celery, etc., to extend the crab," Laurie Sparks wrote. "You refrigerated it overnight and I can’t remember the other ingredients. This came from a sorority recipe book for salads and I no longer have the book. If anyone knows what I am referring to, I would really appreciate it as it was very good."
I found a couple of recipes for this type of salad, all calling for similar combinations of crab, bread, onions, celery, hard-boiled eggs and a mayonnaise-based dressing. One of them included a note that said the bread was used specifically to make the crab seem more bountiful.
And it’s easy to see why. I spend $8 on frozen crab legs to get the 6 ounces of meat to try out the recipe. Unless you’re cooking for one, that much crab won’t get you far.
Sparks doesn’t remember whether her recipe had eggs or mayo, but I suspect we’re in the ballpark here.
Basically, you use the same amount of crab and bread by weight, but by volume that’s twice as much bread. The bread is combined with minced onions and refrigerated overnight, which infuses it with some onion flavor and dries it out slightly — the better to absorb the dressing the next day.
I went light on the dressing, by the way. What’s the point of spending cash on real crab to drown it in mayo? But if you prefer a creamier salad, you could as much as double the amount of dressing you make.
You’re not going to fool anyone into thinking those bread chunks are crab, but the crab flavor does spread through the salad, making it quite enjoyable. You could eat it as is, serve it as a sandwich spread or pile some into an avocado or papaya half.
If you’d like to simplify, the hard-boiled eggs don’t add much, so unless you’re on a protein kick, they are expendable. But I would keep the lemon juice, which adds some acidity to cut the richness and brighten up the salad.
SOURDOUGH AND CRAB SALAD
6 ounces sourdough bread, crust removed and cubed (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup minced onion
6 ounces crab meat, flaked (1-1/2 cups)
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Pepper, to taste
Lemon zest, to taste (optional)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Combine bread cubes and onion. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Add crab, eggs and celery to bread mixture. Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss with salad. Season with salt, pepper and lemon zest. Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 330 calories, 18 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 145 mg cholesterol, 700 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 17 g protein
Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. Write "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.