Crab & melon salad

This elegant seafood starter is sure to impress – buy freshly picked crab meat or see our step-by-step guide to preparing a whole crab

  • Prep:20 mins
    Cook:6 mins
  • Serves 4
  • More effort

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 436
  • fat 17g
  • saturates 3g
  • carbs 48g
  • sugars 10g
  • fibre 11g
  • protein 17g
  • salt 1.6g


  • 100g picked white crabmeat (see step-by-step to prepare a fresh crab)
  • ½ red chilli, finely chopped
  • 6 drops of Tabasco
  • juice 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp snipped chives
  • 1 small fennel bulb with fronds
  • ½ small loaf of rustic wholemeal bread, unsliced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 very ripe avocado
  • large knob of butter
  • 175g watermelons, cut into small cubes
  • 175g cantaloupe melon, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 1 preserved lemon, very finely diced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


Buying a crab

Whether it’s cooked or live, choose a crab that feels heavy for its size and smells fresh. If it’s alive, make sure it looks fairly active. Crabs are best cooked immediately after killing, so ask your fishmonger to kill the crab, then take it home and cook it as soon as you can. Never buy a dead uncooked crab, as you don’t know when it was killed and it may no longer be safe to eat. 

How to cook a crab

Bring a large pan of well-salted water to the boil. Lower in the crab, simmer for 12 mins per kg, then leave to cool a little in the liquid. Transfer to a tray, place in the fridge and leave to cool completely. 


  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Mix the crabmeat with the chilli, a few drops of Tabasco, half the lime juice and the chives, to taste. Reserve any fennel fronds and set aside. Use a mandolin or a very sharp knife to thinly slice the fennel, then place in a bowl of cold water with a few ice cubes in it.

  2. Cut the bread into wafer-thin slices and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with a little oil and bake for 2-3 mins or until crisp. Blitz the avocado in the small bowl of a food processor until smooth. Add a few drops of Tabasco, the rest of the lime juice and some seasoning, and blitz again.

  3. Melt the butter in a frying pan and, once foaming, add the cubes of melon. Cook gently for 2-3 mins until warmed through and slightly softened. Set aside to cool a little. Drain the fennel and mix with the preserved lemon, oil, lemon juice and some seasoning.

  4. To serve, transfer the avocado cream to a piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe swirls onto the plates. Divide the fennel slices between the plates, arranging them in a line. Top with the crab mixture and poke three or four bread wafers in at intervals, so that they stand up. Top with the reserved fennel fronds, then scatter the melon around the plates.

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