Sautéed Crab with Avocado, Grapefruit, and Herb Salad

This light starter is perfect precursor to some of the richer main courses you may have in mind for your partner on Valentine’s Day. The delicate flavour of the crab is enhanced by a smoky chile paste and the cleansing taste of grapefruit. This is rounded off by creamy avocado and herbs.

Makes: 4-6 servings

Takes: 1 hour

  • 2 lb. precooked king or snow crabmeat, defrosted if frozen and cut into 3" pieces
  • 4 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed
  • 4 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 ripe Hass avocados
  • 1 cup packed chervil leaves and tender stems
  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1 cup packed watercress leaves and tender stems
  • 1⁄3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 Ruby Red grapefruit, peeled and segmented

Pat crab dry with paper towels and place in a bowl. Place chiles in another bowl; cover with 2 cups boiling water and let sit until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain chiles, reserving ½ cup soaking liquid. Transfer chiles and soaking liquid, plus cumin, cloves, garlic, and salt to a blender; purée into a smooth paste. Gently toss crab with chile paste until completely coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; chill 30 minutes.

Halve, pit, and peel avocados; slice crosswise about ¼” thick and transfer to a bowl. Add chervil, cilantro, parsley, and watercress; set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a 12″ nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook crab, gently stirring occasionally, until browned, 6–8 minutes. Transfer crab to avocado and herb salad. Add remaining oil, plus lime juice, grapefruit, salt, and pepper; toss gently to combine.