Russian crab salad is a very simple mixture of crab and sour cream. It is often garnished with fresh parsley and served with bread. This is known in Russia as crabmeat charka. When times were tough, the Russians used to swap half the crabmeat for blanched, shredded white cabbage. This tasty salad is nice served by itself or used to top baked potatoes or to fill sandwiches, but in the following recipe it is shaped into stacks, along with layers of imitation crab (for color and also to complement the flavor) and grated cheese for a nice contrast.
You can use any type of cheese you want, although a mature Cheddar does go especially well with the crab. The imitation crab is flavored with a delicious lime and ginger dressing. Although you can make the dressing at the same time as making the rest of the salad, the flavor is smoother and more intense if you make it a day or two in advance.
This is a nice dressing to use for any shellfish salad actually, so you might like to keep the recipe and try it with your next lobster or shrimp salad. You can use fresh or canned crabmeat for the Russian crab salad but make sure it is well drained of all water first. Canned crabmeat is usually swimming in liquid so you will need to sieve this off.
- 2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
- 2 cups fresh or canned crabmeat
- 1 cup chopped imitation crab, plus extra for garnish
- 2 cups sour cream, plus extra for garnish
- Small pot red caviar
- 4 parsley sprigs, for garnish
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 minced garlic clove
- Whisking together the sugar, water, lime juice, ginger and garlic to make the dressing.
- Refrigerate this dressing overnight, and then toss it with the imitation crab.
- Stir the well-drained crabmeat with the sour cream.
- For the next step you will need a mold, or you can use any empty 14 oz can with the top and bottom removed.
- Put the mold in the center of a plate and add ⅛ of the cheese, ¼ of the imitation crab mixture, ¼ of the sour cream and crabmeat mixture, and finally another ⅛ of the cheese on top.
- Press down on the top layer while you slowly remove the mold.
- The crab stack should be freestanding.
- Repeat with the remaining ingredients so you have 4 separate crab salad molds.
- Top each one with some red caviar and a sprig of parsley.
- Decorate the plates with the remaining sour cream and imitation crab, and serve immediately.
This is a great appetizer or lunch, although if you consider this too much for an appetizer you can use a 7 oz can (with the top and bottom removed) as your mold instead of the larger 14 oz size. Another idea is to use a larger mold and cut the crab stack into quarters to serve. Part of the appeal of this Russian crab salad is its shape though so it is usually nicer to make individual ones. You can see how the imitation crab and red caviar add a wonderful splash of color, and the same is true of the parsley sprig. This is a rich, creamy, and delicious recipe and it is sure to delight any crab fans. If your stacks collapse then do not worry too much; it will still taste great.
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