One of the most popular restaurant menu items in the mid Atlantic. Chesapeake Crab Dip is a creamy dip loaded with Blue crab, cheeses and old bay served with a variety of dippers. Its the perfect shareable appetizer for any gathering
Living in Maryland for most of my life Crab Dip is a staple of any restaurant menu with no two recipes the same. Some are so thick you could spackle drywall and others so creamy you’d think it was soup. The key is to find that happy balance between the two. To create that perfect texture I use a mixture of cream cheese, Boursin cheese and Mayonnaise as my base. The Boursin is similar to cream cheese but much lighter plus it has a garlic herb flavor.
Other ingredients include lemon juice, hot sauce and horseradish but the ingredient that I think can be overwhelming is the old bay. You definitely want old bay but you want to be careful not to overpower the crabmeat. You can always sprinkle some extra on top but if you use too much in you base dip you can’t take the old bay out.
When Making Crab Dip there are lots of different types of Crab Meat to choose from. On the East coast we predominately use Blue Crab over other varieties like King, Snow or Dungeness crab. I think a combination of Backfin or Special with Claw is the perfect combination for Crab Dip. Jumbo Limp is great but is expensive and you will break up those big lumps of crab when you mix it up anyway. Backfin is the perfect size pieces and the claw adds a natural sweetness and fortifies the crab flavor.
When you purchase crabmeat there are many different options. Not everyone is lucky enough to have the bounty of the Chesapeake bay nearby so I wanted to give you some tips on what to look for. Obviously Maryland crabmeat is the gold standard but North Carolina and evening Texas also have great fresh crab meat options. You will see fresh crab meat from Venezuela, though I have had good meat from there it’s kinda the Wild West so ask your seafood counter how fresh the crab is and if possible I even ask to take a look and give it the sniff test.
Jumbo Lump/ Colossal: the prized enormous nuggets that come from the back legs of the crab. There are only 2 pieces on each crab and are painstakingly removed by hand making them the most expensive. The flavor is mild and fresh but probably the most bland of the crabmeat options.
Backfin: this crab meat comes from the other cavities of the crabs body along with broken up pieces of jumbo lump, the meat has a sweeter flavor than jumbo but still boasts large individual pieces.
Special: often said to be the most versatile type of crab meat because it can be used for everything from crab cakes to soups. It consists of smaller broken pieces of body meat that packs together tightly.
Claw: as the name suggests this meat comes exclusively from the claw. Though it’s commonly thought of as a lesser grade it has the sweetest flavor and is great for combining with a more expensive grade to add flavor while being economical.
In short the answer is no. Imitation crab, Crab sticks, Sea Wings, Krab and other processed “crab” is actually made from a ground white fish called Surimi. Think of it like how Hot dogs are made where the fish is ground into a paste and formed into a shape to mimic crab. These products often contain sugar and emulsifiers along with preservatives so I normally stay away from them. You will see them often used in sushi and other Japanese cuisine. I will admit that shredded imitation crab mixed with a sriracha mayonnaise is pretty tasty stuff but not a very healthy option.
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