Latest recipes

Watercress and crab salad recipe

Watercress and crab salad recipe

  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Salad
  • Green salad
  • Watercress salad

This is a very fresh and delicious salad combining watercress and crab meat in a light vinaigrette dressing.

7 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 150g bag watercress, roughly chopped
  • 175g tinned crabmeat
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper to taste

MethodPrep:15min ›Ready in:15min

  1. In a large bowl, combine the watercress, imitation crabmeat, celery, spring onion and tomato. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Pour over the watercress mixture, and toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately.

Recently viewed

Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(6)

Reviews in English (6)

by trisch

I thought I had imitation crabmeat in the freezer, but it turns out I had run out, so I substituted some Japanese fish cake sliced thin and halved. I also eyeballed the ingredient amounts rather than measuring everything out. It turned out delicious. Next time I'll try it with jumbo lump crab meat!-20 Jan 2008

by Mrs. CJR

Husband didn't care for it very much. I didn't mind it, but it might have been because I added a variety of greenage.-01 Jul 2010

  • 3 tablespoons light mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped cooked fresh lump or jumbo crabmeat or drained pasteurized canned lump crabmeat, flaked and cartilage removed
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Dash salt
  • 8 thin slices firm-texture white or wheat sandwich bread
  • 2 tablespoons 40% to 50% vegetable oil spread
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • ½ cup loosely packed watercress (thick stems discarded), rinsed and dried

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, chives and lemon juice. Add crabmeat stir with a fork to combine. Stir in white pepper and salt.

Spread one side of each of the bread slices with vegetable oil spread. Arrange avocado slices on half of the buttered bread slices. Top with crab mixture. Add watercress. Top with the remaining bread slices, buttered-sides down. Trim the crusts from the bread. Cut each sandwich crosswise into three pieces.

Sprinkle with additional chives before serving.

Tip: To make ahead, prepare as directed through step 2. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for up to 1 hour. Sprinkle with additional chives before serving.

Dungeness crab salad with endive and watercress

The 100-year-old white clapboard walls of the Portuguese Assn. Crown Hall seem almost to bulge outward, swelling with the sheer joy inside on this late January evening.

A couple of hundred happy eaters are packed around long trestle tables laid with long sheets of white butcher paper. Every so often -- but not nearly often enough -- someone brings over a cafeteria tray heaped with cooked Dungeness crab.

This is crab as it was meant to be eaten. There are no fancy preparations. It is boiled plain and served straight up, with no distractions except for melted butter. Save the elaborate dipping sauces for another time. Crab cakes, salads, soups or gratins? Those are for leftovers. The menu here is elemental in the extreme: salad, cracked crab, garlic bread and for dessert -- as if you’d have any room after having torn through two or three Dungies -- a little tub of vanilla ice cream like you used to get in the elementary school cafeteria.

When a tray is brought to the table, those closest to the landing point fall on the crab in a feeding frenzy, pulling it apart, cracking legs and claws, tearing open the shells and sucking out the sweet, minerally meat.

Their faces and hands grow sticky with juice, but the more they eat, the hungrier they seem to get. Dungeness has that effect on people. The din is practically deafening, a happy hubbub of neighbors and old friends reconnecting over some of the most delicious food in the world.

If ever there was a single moment that would capture the magic of Dungeness crab, this is it. An annual feast that marks the end of the holiday crab rush, it always sells out months in advance.

What makes the dinner even better is that so many of those celebrating are the people who know the crab the best -- the ones who depend on it for their living. Indeed, Crown Hall was built in 1901 as the Catholic church for the area’s Portuguese fishermen.

Dungeness crab is much more than a winter treat up here on California’s North Coast. It is a major industry, a vital part of the local economy. From Crescent City in the north to Half Moon Bay south of San Francisco, crabs mean cash -- and lots of it. And on the North Coast, where the beauty of the scenery is matched only by the bleakness of the economy, that is crucial.

The Dungeness harvest, which for all practical purposes lasts only from the middle of November until the end of January, is either the first- or second-richest fishery in California, depending on the year and the vagaries of nature.

It accounted for more than $35 million in 2003 (a huge year), dwarfing squid, the state’s second-leading product, at $25 million and leaving king salmon’s $12 million in the dust.

But this is anything but easy money. Dungeness are only found from Monterey north, and in winter the Pacific Ocean up here is rough, the color of dirty pavement. The water is icy, with temperatures in the 40s and low 50s. When you’re out on the crab boats, the weather is often so overcast that it is hard to determine a horizon line between the dark gray of the water and the slightly lighter gray of the sky.

Sometimes you might almost believe that’s a good thing, as boats sink and rise on enormous swells. If you could actually see how rough the ocean was, it might seem even worse. It’s bad enough straining to catch a glimpse of the fog-shrouded headlands that appear and disappear less than a mile away.

There are no pleasure boats out on this water. The only company is a couple of passing whales and a half-dozen other fishermen.

The competition for Dungeness crab is fierce, partly because the fishery is so extremely efficient. Biologists estimate that 80% to 90% of the eligible crabs (basically, sexually mature males) are caught each season. To get their share, fishermen race in a dead sprint to take as much as they can as quickly as they can before the crabs become so scarce that it costs more to catch them than they can be sold for.

“You want to know what it’s like?” says one crab industry expert. “Pile $35 million in $1 bills in the middle of the floor. Jam 600 fishermen in a circle around it and then blow a whistle and say, ‘Go!’ ”

Actually, there are two California Dungeness crab seasons. First, starting Nov. 15, comes the so-called city season from San Francisco south. Starting Dec. 1, the rest of the state starts fishing. Between 70% and 80% of the California catch comes before New Year’s Day, even though the season technically runs until mid-July.

Oregon and Washington have winter seasons that usually begin about the same time as California’s and run a little longer. There is also a spring fishery in British Columbia and a summer harvest in Alaska that keep Dungeness in the markets pretty much all year round. But the bulk of the sales are done by Super Bowl Sunday.

The fishery is remarkably sustainable: It is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch’s “green list” as a “best choice” seafood. To protect the population, the season is closed when females are carrying eggs. Furthermore, regulations allow fishermen to take only male crabs that are bigger than 6 1/4 inches across. These will be at least 4 years old and will already have a year or two of reproduction under their belts.

To ensure that only crabs of legal size are caught, the traps have been specially designed. Big, round chicken-wire containers the size of truck tires, they have an opening in the center that allows any crabs smaller than the legal minimum to escape. Furthermore, the main trap hatch is tied shut with special twine that deteriorates in seawater, so if a trap gets lost any crabs it contains will eventually be freed.

The average boat works 250 to 300 traps, hauling them in every day in the early season. When fishing slows, that might go down to once every two or three days.

The traps are attached by long ropes to brightly colored buoys that bob on the surface. Each boat has its own distinctive color scheme so it can recognize its buoys from a distance.

When a buoy is spotted, a crewman catches the rope and attaches it to a winch, which hoists the trap up from the bottom. The trap is lifted aboard, and a deckhand inspects each crab. First he flips it over and checks the “apron” on its belly -- a wide apron means it’s a female, and it will be chucked back into the ocean. Then any crab that is close to the legal minimum is double-checked with a set of calipers.

In this way, California crabbers took more than 22 million pounds of Dungeness in 2003. Oregon crabbers caught a little more, almost 23.5 million pounds, and Washington fishermen were rewarded with a bumper 33.7 million pounds -- almost half again as much as the previous season.

That kind of fluctuation is normal in the crab business, and that’s just one more reason crabbers push so hard so fast to get their share.

Ironically, while this frenzied fishing doesn’t seem to harm the crab population, it is extremely hard on the fishermen. Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, and that is particularly true in the rough, icy waters of the Pacific Northwest. It’s a rare year that goes by without a serious accident.

Even on the calmest of oceans, the very nature of the Dungeness fishery can cause accidents. In their rush to catch their limits quickly, fishermen can overwhelm their boats -- loading aboard so many crabs and traps that the slightest crosswise wave turns the whole thing right over. They can also overwhelm themselves: Exhaustion is a leading cause of accidents as crabbers push to fish around the clock to get the most out of the early season.

This is the same kind of dangerous “derby” fishing that led to the 1995 reforms in the Alaskan halibut industry. Today, each boat has an allotted share of the catch, which it can take at its leisure. This has improved safety, extended the fresh season and increased the price the fishermen get for their catch.

But even though almost everyone in the crab industry agrees that something similar needs to be done, a recent University of California survey of crabbers regarding various management options found the most popular choice was maintaining the current system.

The California Legislature passed a bill that would limit each boat on the Central Coast to 250 traps on an experimental basis (the second-most popular solution). But at the urging of processors and large boat owners, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it.

Once the crabs are caught, they are unloaded at the boats’ home ports and then trucked to central processing plants like Caito Fisheries at Noyo Harbor, a tiny port hidden in a cleft in the land between Mendocino and Fort Bragg. Small as it is, more than half a million pounds of Dungeness crab pass through Noyo every year.

As at other fishing ports along the coast, you can buy whole crabs here straight off the boats and at a couple of small seafood markets. But at Noyo that is pretty much window dressing for tourists. Almost all of the Dungeness landed here is cooked and cleaned for meat (as are about 60% of all the crabs caught on the West Coast). In an industrial setting like Caito, a crew of 30 workers can clean 10,000 pounds of live crab a day.

In Southern California, we can’t just run down to the docks to pick out our crabs (they aren’t caught south of Monterey). But we do have an even more convenient alternative. Asian markets, such as the widespread 99 Ranch chain, usually have whole tanks filled with live Dungeness. Think of them as landlocked crab boats. Indeed, in some ways they’re even better.

Last week at the 99 Ranch market on Pioneer Boulevard in Artesia, they had two separate tanks of Dungeness crabs, having separated out the biggest and fattest ones to sell for an extra $1 a pound ($5.69 versus $4.69).

This is the way to go. While you can buy whole cooked crab, clusters (cooked leg sections) and even cleaned meat, crabs as regal as the Dungeness deserve the very best treatment. That means carefully choosing and cooking them yourself and then serving them in the simplest possible manner so you can appreciate the full natural savor of the crab. Save the fancy preparations for whatever crabmeat you have left over after a cracked-crab feast, or just buy an extra crab or two to cook alongside the ones you’re going to eat right away.

Call it the Mendocino menu: Arrange the crab pieces on a platter. Slice a loaf of crusty bread. Open a bottle of white wine. Make a green salad. Then call your family and closest friends to the table and let the frenzy begin.

A boom time for the crab harvest

This year’s Dungeness crab harvest promises to be one of the biggest in quite some time, and thanks to a quirk of nature this wealth of crabs should last much longer than usual.

Dungeness seasons vary crazily. One year it seems there are no crabs to be had the next year there’s a glut. No one really understands why. What’s uncontested is that we’re in the midst of a boom. In 2001, California’s total Dungeness harvest was 3.5 million pounds. In 2002 it more than doubled to just over 7 million pounds. Last year it nearly tripled to more than 22 million pounds -- the state’s biggest in 25 years -- and this year’s appears to be at least as big.

The same scenario is playing out in Oregon and Washington, but with an important twist: Fisheries managers found that crabs in northern Oregon and Washington were very slow to come out of the molt this year, and so the opening of the season was pushed back from the normal date of Dec. 1 to Jan. 15.

Last year Washington led the nation in Dungeness caught, and Oregon was second. With both fisheries seeing plenty of crabs in the water, consumers will probably enjoy bargains in late January and early February.

How to prepare a fresh Dungeness

Cooking and cleaning Dungeness crab is easy.

Start by choosing a good crab. It should be well filled out, with a hard shell around the legs. And it should be full of fight. Reject any that seem light or lackadaisical.

In polite company, allow half a crab per person. If it’s just family, make it a whole one. If you’re by yourself, use your own discretion. Dungies yield about 25% of their live weight in picked meat. With an average weight of 2 to 2 1/2 pounds, you’ll get a little more than half a pound of pure meat per crab.

Put the crab or crabs (you’ll want to invite friends) in a big pot and cover with generously salted cold water. Bring to a boil, and 15 to 20 minutes after the first big bubbles appear, the crabs will be done. To verify, pull off one of the little back legs -- there should be little feathers of body meat attached.

Drain the crabs and set them aside until they are cool enough to handle (there is some disagreement whether Dungeness are best served still slightly warm or well chilled, a question worthy of extensive investigation).

To clean the crab, pry off the top shell, lifting from the back hinge, and rinse out the fat and viscera (die-hards may want to collect this it is heavenly with mayonnaise). Pull off the gills on either side, the jaws and the “apron” underneath.

Pull off the legs and crack each large section using the back of a large knife. Cut the crab body in half lengthwise, then cut each half in sections between the leg joints. Put them on the platter and you’re ready to feast.

Menus & Tags

I love this recipe, but I use a pound of fresh crab in it. Watercress is hard to find for me, so I tried a big handful of arugula and it worked well. Not sure what kind of chile the recipe really calls for, but I look for a red jalepeno and if I can't find a fresh red chili, I'll just use a seeded jalepeno.

I have made this a couple of times and it is easy and delicious. Bought canned lump crab at Kroger and it was good. If you don't have a red chile, red pepper flakes are a good substitute. Omitted the watercress last time and served sauteed spinach on the side.

Great tastings, easy to make dish - all it takes is boiling pasta water, and the sauce is just mashed together in a mortar/pestle. Fantastically quick, and a great one for summer - the lemon gives it a zing and freshness. I added some extra lemon oil, and garlic, it would be even better with a touch more chili next time.

The amount of salt added here seems crucial -- not too little, not too much. Didn't use watercress (why would I buy watercress?). The combo of parsley, salt, and lemon zest was very tasty. I could (hypothetically) eat staggering quantities of this very happily.

I was worried when looking over the ingredients this would be bland--turns out I was correct. Used fresh crab, salvaged the dish by adding some homemade pesto.

This dish was incredible. Delicious, easy, quick and the leftovers are even better the next day. I was a little nervous about using canned crab but it actually worked. I would use fresh in season. You must try this one!

So yummy! Easy, inexpensive & delicious. This is by far the most impressive dish of its simplicity that I've ever made. I'll be using this one on guests, when I want to wow them (and also have fun at my own dinner party - the prep is quick). I used *fresh spinach* linguine, instead of dry linguine. great results. My husband and I love this dish. Vegetarians could use finely chopped artichoke hearts instead of crab! xox lis harvey

Recipe: Crab Salad with Bacon, Apple and Watercress

So, as we can’t treat you to some delicious food in the restaurant, we asked our head chef Adam Hague to share a few timely and seasonal recipes which are easy to make.

Crab Salad with Bacon, Apple and Watercress.

Serves 4 people

At The Greyhound, we try to support local farms wherever we can. For this salad, I usually like to use the smoked streaky bacon from Stockings Farm based in Coleshill, Amersham. These guys are fantastic! They are close to Beaconsfield and also tend to visit a few of the markets in the area. Check out their website for details

The best thing about this salad is that it's about having fun!


200g Fresh White Crab Meat

100g Smoked Streaky Bacon

Handful of Young Watercress

To begin, start by making the mayonnaise - you can use shop bought mayo if you prefer. Take the egg yolk, Dijon mustard and vinegar and place it into a mixing bowl. Whisk together and slowly start adding the oil, keep whisking to mix it all in, then season to taste with salt.

Next up is the crab - pick through the crab meat to remove all shell and cartilage. Just get some gloves on and place it on a tray and pick through the crab using your fingertips - once picked, place the meat into separate containers.

Mix mayonnaise into one container of crab. Dress the other with a squeeze of lemon juice and salt. Cover and put it in the fridge until serving.

To make the burnt apple purée take three of the apples, remove the core and roughly chop. Spread it on a baking tray and put it in a 200 degree oven for 15 minutes or until slightly burnt. Just move the apple pieces occasionally.

Then just blend until smooth, season with lemon juice and add some sugar if you feel it is too bitter. Pass through a fine sieve and place in a squeezy bottle.

Now let’s move onto the bacon. Slice the bacon into 5mm strips, get a medium size frying pan and get on a medium to high heat. Once it starts to smoke, add the strips of bacon, keep turning over until the bacon becomes crispy, then remove and drain it on some absorbing paper to remove the excess oil.

Now for the fun part - serving the dish. While waiting for the bacon to cool down for 5-10 minutes, remove the crab from the fridge, dice the last apple and grab the watercress (if there are any big stalks just rip them out, give it a quick wash in cold water and give it a shake).

Plating the dish - dot some of the apple purée around the plate, take the crab with mayonnaise and drop it around, drop some bacon bits, add some of the freshly cut apple, sprinkle some of the watercress over the top then flake some of the lemon dressed crab.

Chilli and ginger crab cakes with watercress

Homemade Thai crab cakes are quick and easy to make for a speedy midweek meal. Packed with crab, ginger, chilli and coriander, then served with watercress.

Published: December 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm


  • red chilli 1, seeded and diced
  • ginger thumb-sized piece, peeled and grated
  • coriander ½ small bunch, chopped
  • white crab meat 200g
  • egg 1, beaten
  • fresh breadcrumbs 5 tbsp
  • olive oil
  • lemon 2, 1 cut into wedges to serve
  • watercress 150g
  • sweet chilli sauce to serve


Mix the chilli, ginger, coriander and crab meat, then stir in the egg and breadcrumbs and season. Mould into 8 patties. Fry the crab cakes in 1 tsp oil for 4 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through. Mix the lemon juice with 2 tsp olive oil and toss the watercress in the dressing. Serve with the crab cakes, lemon wedges and chilli sauce.

Home fries with crab, watercress and smoky red pepper aioli

The garlicky aioli is a delicious dressing for the light crab salad.

Prep 10 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 4-6

650g jersey royals, cut into 2-3cm cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
1 tsp smoked paprika

For the aioli
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, roasted and peeled
2 egg yolks
1 tsp smoked paprika
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and black pepper
200ml olive oil
200ml vegetable oil

For the crab salad
200g white crab meat
60g watercress, roughly chopped
½ red onion, very finely sliced
2 tbsp capers
1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Put the potatoes in a pan of salted water, bring to a boil and simmer for three minutes. Drain in a colander and leave to steam dry.

To make the aioli, put the garlic and red pepper in a tall measuring jug with the egg yolks, paprika, lemon juice and several large pinches of salt. Blitz with a stick blender for 30 seconds, then slowly pour in the olive oil in a thin, steady trickle as you blend. After a minute, increase the trickle to a thin stream, continuing to blend.

Once you have poured in all the olive oil, pour in the vegetable oil, now in a thicker stream, until it is all mixed in. Add 45ml water to thin the aioli, then check the seasoning and add more lemon or salt, as needed.

Fry the onion in a small frying pan with two tablespoons of the oil for 10 minutes, until soft and just coloured. Meanwhile, melt the butter and remaining oil in your largest pan over a medium-high heat, then fry the potatoes in a single layer for 10 minutes, tossing them in the fat and shaking the pan occasionally, until they are crisp and golden. Stir in the onion and paprika, and fry for another minute.

To make the salad, put the crab, watercress, red onion and capers in a bowl and dress with the oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and lemon juice.

Empty the home fries into a large, shallow bowl and top with the crab and watercress. Drizzle over the aioli and serve at once.

Simple Crab Salad

This delicious crab salad is a great seasonal starter.

1½ halved, deseeded and finely chopped red chillies

the pared zest and juice of 2 limes

(3½fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

slices white sourdough bread

2 x 145 g bags mixed watercress, rocket and spinach

stoned and thinly sliced ripe avocados

finely sliced spring onions

and a small handful of fresh mint leaves

First make the dressing: mix together 1½ halved, deseeded and finely chopped red chillies, the pared zest and juice of 2 limes, 1tbsp each wholegrain mustard, white wine vinegar and runny honey. Gradually mix in 100ml (3½fl oz) extra virgin olive oil and stir in 400g (14oz) white crabmeat. Season, then cover and chill until needed.

Cut 5 slices white sourdough bread into 1cm (½in) cubes. Heat 2-3tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan, add the bread cubes and fry for 6-8min until crisp. Don't overcrowd the pan or the croutons won't crisp up - fry in batches if necessary. Season with salt and set aside on kitchen paper to cool.

Empty 2 x 145g bags mixed watercress, rocket and spinach salad into a bowl, then add 4 stoned and thinly sliced ripe avocados and 6 finely sliced spring onions.

Using your hands, gently toss through the crab mix. Season and garnish with the croutons and a small handful of fresh mint leaves before serving.

Make the dressing and add the crab up to a day ahead. Cover and chill. Allow to come up to room temperature, then complete recipe to serve.

Linguine With Chilli, Crab and Watercress

You know, I'd eaten this a couple of times and made it myself (throwing in handfuls of peppery watercress as I did so) a few more before I realised it was, give or take, the River Cafe's recipe - by which I mean to say that although the amounts and full list of ingredients vary, it is an English seaside version of their fabulous original. I suppose that's how you know something's become a classic: it just seeps its way into the culinary language.

Crab is, I think, hugely underrated - so much better than lobster, and much cheaper. You can use frozen crab meat for this, but it's best to get a fishmonger to cook and pick out the meat for you.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

You know, I'd eaten this a couple of times and made it myself (throwing in handfuls of peppery watercress as I did so) a few more before I realised it was, give or take, the River Cafe's recipe - by which I mean to say that although the amounts and full list of ingredients vary, it is an English seaside version of their fabulous original. I suppose that's how you know something's become a classic: it just seeps its way into the culinary language.

Crab is, I think, hugely underrated - so much better than lobster, and much cheaper. You can use frozen crab meat for this, but it's best to get a fishmonger to cook and pick out the meat for you.

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 cups trimmed watercress or arugula (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 cups torn radicchio (1-inch pieces)
  • 1 small avocado, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup sliced radishes
  • ½ cup thinly sliced spring onions or scallions
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeño
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)

To hard-boil eggs, place in a small saucepan and cover with 1 inch of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook at the barest simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour out hot water and cover the eggs with ice-cold water. Let stand until cool enough to handle before peeling. Cut into quarters.

Combine watercress (or arugula), radicchio, avocado, radishes and onions (or scallions) in a salad bowl. Add the eggs. Combine lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, jalapeno, garlic and oil in a jar cover and shake to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss to combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, if desired.