Derek Dammann's snow crab toast

Another way to enjoy snow crab than just eating it straight from the shell

Travel across Canada with a new cookbook from Derek Dammann, chef of Montreal's Maison Publique. Not only is True North full of recipes, but it's a sort of travelogue about the people, experiences and bounty across the country. Its chapters are divided by regions, instead of seasons or meal courses, to illustrate a sense of place. Here's Dammann shows you an application of the snow crab. 

Tip from Dammann:

"You can buy fresh cooked snow crab clusters in season from your fish purveyor, or substitute Dungeness if you are on the West Coast. If you plan on cooking your own snow crab, be sure to separate the bodies from the legs and discard the bodies before you boil or steam the legs. The body contains toxins that are released from the innards, turning the meat slightly green and making it inedible."

Crab preparation

3 live snow crabs, or 6 snow crab clusters

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, divide the live crabs by splitting them in half lengthwise through the underside of the shell. Remove the top portion of the shell and carefully remove all the innards and the gills (the “dead man’s fingers”), leaving the legs and body meat attached.

Drop the crabs into the boiling water and simmer for 8 minutes. Scoop the crabs out of the pot and immediately transfer to a large bowl of salted ice water. Allow to cool completely.

Set a medium bowl into a larger bowl of ice. Remove the crab legs from the body. Using sharp scissors, split the leg sections lengthwise. Carefully remove the meat in one piece, adding the meat to the chilled bowl. Using tweezers, remove the tendon that runs through the middle of each piece of leg meat. With the back of a large knife, crack the claws right above the joint but below the “thumb” and remove the sweet, sweet claw meat, adding it to the leg meat. Using a crab fork or a skewer, remove all of the white meat from the body of the crab. Carefully feel the meat with the tips of your fingers to check for any missed pieces of shell. Cover and refrigerate the crab if not using it soon.


6 slices sourdough rye bread
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1½ tbsp creme fraiche
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
2 tbsp finely minced shallot
1 tbsp finely minced jalapeño pepper, seeds intact
1 tbsp thinly sliced fresh red chili pepper
2 tsp lemon vinaigrette
2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, torn
1/2 cup pangritata, see below
1 lemon, finely grated zest only
sea salt, to top
extra virgin olive oil

You could toast the bread in the oven, but it’s much better done over charcoal. With the coals glowing on your grill, toast the bread a little more than golden. If it gets a bit too much colour on the edges, that’s fine. Immediately rub each side of the toast with the garlic clove. Keep the toast warm.

In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and the crème fraîche. Season with kosher salt and black pepper.

To the crab in the cold bowl, add the parsley, shallot, jalapeño and red chili. Drizzle with the lemon vinaigrette, then fold in the mayonnaise mixture and torn mint. Season with kosher salt and pepper.

Divide the crab meat among the pieces of toast. Shower the crab with some of the pangritata and a small sprinkling of lemon zest per toast. Sprinkle with a touch of good sea salt and a generous drizzle of good olive oil.


3 egg yolks
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2½ cups canola oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp white wine vinegar
kosher salt and black pepper

Place the egg yolks and mustard in a food processor. With the motor running, very slowly drizzle in the oil. Continue to process until all the oil is used and the mixture is emulsified. If you feel the mayonnaise is getting too thick, add a splash of water to thin it. Add the lemon juice and the vinegar and season with salt and pepper.


If the mayonnaise looks like it is separating—you see little flecks in the mixture—it has “broken.” But you don’t have to start over. Break an egg yolk into a clean stainless steel bowl. Whisk in the broken mayo drop by drop and continue whisking until you have a new emulsified mayonnaise.


Creme fraiche

2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp lime juice

Combine all the ingredients in a nonreactive bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. The mixture will become very thick. Stir well and refrigerate.

Lemon vinaigrette

1½ cups lemon oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp kosher salt

Whisk together the lemon oil and lemon juice. Season with the salt.


1 cup fresh bread crumbs
10 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup dried currants
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tsp red chili flakes
3/4 cup fined diced red onion
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley

Preheat the oven to 375°F .

Toss the bread crumbs with 2 tbsp olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring once halfway through, until golden brown and crunchy, about 10 minutes.

Soak the currants in hot water for 10 minutes.

While the currants soak, in a sauté pan over medium heat, combine the rest of the olive oil, the rosemary and the chili flakes. When they start to sizzle, add the onion and season with sea salt. Turn down the heat to low and allow the onions to stew for about 10 minutes, until very tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl and discard the rosemary. Do not wipe out the pan.

Drain the currants. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pan that the onions were in and reduce it over medium heat to 1 tbsp (15 mL). Stir the reduced vinegar into the onions, then stir in the currants, bread crumbs, almonds and parsley. Season with sea salt and pepper. (Pangritata keeps, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 2 weeks.)

6 servings