Citrus and White Wine Steamed Crab, Garlic Preserved Kumquats, Baby Greens, Saffron Vinaigrette

Savory Recipes, Spring • 7 May 2013

Spring is gently waking from its wintertide silent slumber, sending the cold into hibernation. Fuchsia, mauve and alabaster flowers hang suspended from their branches, an occasional petal drifting from its tightrope, fluttering through the atmosphere like a lost helicopter.


My life has blossomed with the spring flowers, a few weak petals falling from my stem. While my family celebrated my son’s third birthday, my childhood home sold. My personal passions acquiesced to this bittersweet milestone, to our jubilant celebration and to the few physical sprains, stitches and fevers we endured.

Getting back on the creative horse can be mentally exasperating. But the season’s produce propels my inertia and provides a necessary rush of inspiration. Early spring citrus’ bold aromatics and floral flavors mimic nature’s dynamic vibrancy. Microgreens copycat the diminutive vegetation rearing its head from the new earth.


I make a salad of simple products that bridge the seasons and celebrate spring’s commencement. I steam crab until drunk in a grassy white wine and the juice of lively lemons, pert grapefruit and glowing oranges. A tangle of baby beet greens, new as adolescent spring grass, shimmer in a light vinaigrette of saffron, olive oil, lemon and garlic. Quick preserved kumquats, which I marinate for a week in silken olive oil, slippery spring onions, peppery garlic and lace with a dapple of red pepper, are subtly spicy, compulsively aromatic and flirtatiously savory. The kumquats’ vibrant tang plays a whimsical game of tag with the sweetly bitter saffron vinaigrette.

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We feast on the golden-toned, resolutely dynamic salad while the sun’s tawny fingers extend through our incandescent glass windows. We feel the warmth of spring on our skin and on our palates. Winter, with its shivers and tribulations, is in the past. We have so much to look forward to this spring.

Citrus and White Wine Steamed Crab, Garlic Preserved Kumquats, Baby Greens, Saffron Vinaigrette

3 oranges, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
1 grapefruit, juiced
1 cup white wine
2 pounds king crab legs
12 preserved kumquat halves (make ahead, recipe follows)
1/8 cup saffron vinaigrette (make ahead, recipe follows)
2 cups loosely packed baby greens
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Thoroughly defrost crab legs in refrigerator before steaming, about 8-10 hours. Remove kumquats from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature while the crab legs thaw.

2. Place a steaming basket inside a large lobster pot and add wine and citrus juice. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Add crab legs, cover the pot and steam for about 5-6 minutes.

3. Remove crab legs from the pot and cool. Once at room temperature, carefully remove the meat from the shells using kitchen scissors. Discard shells and membranes. Cut crab meat crosswise into 2-inch long pieces.

4. While crab cools, mix baby greens, fresh pepper and all but 1 tablespoon vinaigrette. If desired season with additional salt or lemon juice to taste. Slice 8 kumquat halves into thirds and toss with salad.

5. Pile greens into bowl and add crab meat. Drizzle remaining dressing over salad and either serve as is or toss gently to break up the crab meat. Place remaining kumquats on top of each salad and serve.

Yield: Serves 4 as appetizer.

Quick Garlic Preserved Kumquats

1 1/2 cups kumquats, washed, sliced in half crosswise (yielding about 1 1/3 cup sliced kumquats)
6 large garlic cloves or 7 medium, smashed with the back of a knife and sliced in half lengthwise
2 spring onions, whites and greens, washed, trimmed and cut crosswise into three pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Add half the kumquats to a glass pint jar along with garlic, spring onions, salt and red pepper flakes. Cover with remaining kumquats and pour in enough olive oil to fill the jar, about 1 cup.

2. Cover with lid and store in refrigerator for 3-5 days before making crab. Extra kumquats can be used on salads, served on toast with butter, alongside poached or soft boiled eggs and on a cheese plate.

Saffron Vinaigrette

1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 teaspoon saffron, or a large pinch
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 garlic clove pulled from jar of preserved kumquats, mashed into a paste

1. In a pestle, add saffron and about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Use the mortar to gently mash the saffron. Add remaining oil. Make 1 day prior to steaming crab and store in an airtight container.

2. Just before serving, add salt, sugar, garlic and lemon juice and mix well to combine.

One Response

  1. Thanks for sharing your information. Nice blog post.

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