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Claw Humbug: Crab and Cheese Cuisine


The winter season is a time of year that is filled with roast turkey and holiday ham. And while these are some of our favorite go-to dinner dishes, one primary protein at Christmas or New Year’s celebrations that doesn’t gets nearly as much press as it deserves is crab. If you’re a resident of Christmas Island, however, it’s impossible not to see crabs in December. In fact, it’s likely that you’ll see millions of them. A freakish phenomenon of nature, nearly 120 million land crabs live on the seasonally name Australian island. Every year, the crabs kick off the holidays by making a mass exodus from their jungle habitat toward the ocean and descend upon human towns and neighborhoods. It’s a harmless swarm, but startlingly strange nonetheless.

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of mirror.co.uk

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of mirror.co.uk

While the idea of being caught in a veritable tsunami of crabs is slightly terrifying, there’s no denying that this discovery has caused us to crave seafood. So, in the spirit of Christmas Island, we’re thinking about adding crab and cheese to our holiday shopping list. Although there tends to be an unfortunate stigma associated with mixing seafood and cheese, we’re here to tell you that it’s actually a perfect combination. As is the case with any pairing, not all flavors go together; since many seafoods have a particularly mild taste, overpowering and pungent cheeses do not make a suitable match. However, crab and cheese are a classic combination, with roots in traditional Italian cuisine. As you begin planning your annual holiday festivities, consider trying one of these unique recipes and surprise your guests with some unexpected eats! (Or, set hundreds of live crabs loose at your party. Either way, both methods will make the evening a memorable affair.)

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of marthastewart.com

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of marthastewart.com

Hot crab dip is an all-around favorite, and is also the most familiar version of the crab/cheese combo. When making crab dishes that have a flavorful, heavy sauce (such as this pimento cheese and hot crab dip recipe), make sure you use a type of meat that will hold its own. Claw meat has a strong and hearty flavor profile, making it ideal for dips. Save the more expensive and delicate lump meat for topping a salad, or in a ceviche.

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of goodtaste.tv

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of goodtaste.tv

Like tasty dips, soup is another delicious way of enjoying cheese and crab. This creamy chowder recipe has the trifecta of winning flavors: crab, muenster cheese, and dark beer. Start your meal off right, and serve during the first course.

crab gratin 600x400

Parmesan and crab meat add hearty flavor to this Chilean gratin, traditionally known as chupe. Although many South American countries have their own regional versions of chupe, Chile’s is unique because it is dense and stew-like, rather than soupy. On a cold night, this dish will stick to your ribs and warm you right up.

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of dineanddish.com

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of dineanddish.com

Mac and cheese is hard to improve upon, but adding crab puts it right over the edge into heavenly territory. For this crabby macaroni recipe, use a combination of grated Monterey Jack and Fontina cheese, and don’t forget those buttery breadcrumbs! This dish makes the perfect side.

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of foodiecrush.com

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of foodiecrush.com

Who says you have to share your crab and cheese with the world? Make this crab and avocado grilled cheese, and savor the delicious goodness all by yourself. Try Swiss, Havarti, or Gruyere on your seafood toastie, and add any of your favorite toppings to suit your individual taste. The power of the grilled cheese knows no bounds! You can even transform crab rangoon into a grilled cheese sandwich, resulting in the most gooey, melty Frankenfood the world has ever seen.

Photo Credit: Featured image courtesy of greygooseadventures.blogspot.com

Emily Dangler

Culture Intern Emily Dangler is a creative writer and travel enthusiast, who is always looking for a good story to tell. Originally a West Coast girl, Emily has spent several years migrating across the country and is currently an adopted resident of Boston, where she is enjoying the city's delicious food and rich history.