When I decided that the best way to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year would be to publish 14 days of romantic recipes, I reached out to a few chef and cookbook author friends to see if they would like to get in on the fun. Author Jill Silverman Hough sent me a roundup of what she felt were her most “romance-worthy” dishes and I begged her to let us run the Five-Spice Crab Cocktails recipe from her book 100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Serve with Wines You Love.
A crab meat cocktail with spice
As you might already know, I’m obsessed with the aphrodisiac qualities of Five-Spice Powder. (After all, it truly is a blend of five historically noted aphrodisiacs. These include cinnamon; star anise; fennel; black pepper and clove.) When used sparingly – and this spice blend is best used sparingly – its beautiful balance of sweetness and spice can transform ordinary ingredients like chicken or quinoa into a complex, taste bud tingling, body warming masterwork of flavor.
A sexy crab appetizer for date night
Here, Jill uses the aphrodisiac spice blend to bring a unique brightness and allure to steamed, lump crabmeat. (Like all crustaceans, crab is considered an aphrodisiac.)
Comments Jill, “If you’re looking for an elegant way to start a meal, look no further. These crab cocktails are super-simple to make. But because the recipe features an indulgent ingredient, crab, it feels sophisticated and special-occasion. Ideally, I recommend using fresh crab from a good fishmonger. But canned crab will work as well if you can’t get great fresh crab.”
Incidentally, this recipe is from the Viognier chapter of 100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Serve with Wines You Love. If you really want to bring the experience of this dish to life, pair it with a beautiful bottle of floral Viognier, like Raft Wines Jonquille.
Five-Spice Crab Cocktails
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice or more to taste
- 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder plus more for garnish (see below)
- 12 oz cooked lump crab meat picked over
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley plus leaves for garnish
- 2 tbsp minced shallot
- In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and five-spice powder. Set aside. (You can prepare the mayonnaise mixture up to 3 days in advance, storing it covered in the refrigerator.)
- In a medium bowl, combine the crab, chopped parsley, and shallot. Add about 2 tablespoons of the mayonnaise mixture, gently tossing to combine. Taste, ideally with your wine, and add more lemon juice if you like.
- Spoon the crab mixture into decorative glasses. Top with the remaining mayonnaise mixture, dividing it evenly. Sprinkle with a dash of five-spice powder, garnish with the parsley leaves, and serve.
crab photo by Lucy Schaeffer
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