With December upon us, our schedules are filling up with office holiday parties, club potlucks, and family get-togethers. Whether you’re hosting, or attending, having a few solid canapés will make you the star of any holiday shindig. During the four weeks leading up to Christmas, I’m going to show you a few of my favorite one-bite-wonders.
This week, I’ve made some festive cucumber cups that taste as good as they look. With a crisp cucumber shell holding a bite of citrusy crab salad, these make a nice light alternative to the carbs and creamy spreads that usually show up on a platter of hors d’oeuvres.
While carving out cucumber cups may sound like a lot of work, armed with the right tool, it doesn’t take much more time than brushing olive oil onto crostini. While a tiny melon baller would be the tool for the job, I’ve found that 1/4 teaspoon stainless steel measuring spoons work just as well.
I like to use Japanese or Lebanese cucumbers because they have tender skin and are the perfect size for a bite-sized canapé, but if you can’t find either, you could serve the crab salad on thick slices of English cucumber. These cups also make great vessels for other bite-size salads as well, so don’t feel like you have to use crab.
To get the prep out of the way, you can carve and salt the cucumbers up to a day in advance, and the crab salad can be prepared in advance as well, provided you store the cilantro separately. Lastly, to take these to the next level, try topping each cup off with a bit of tobiko or trout roe. The fish eggs not only add some texture, they’ll look like little gems atop a nest of crab.
Crab Salad in Cucumber Cups
- 400 grams (14.11 ounces) seedless cucumbers (about 4 japanese or 6 lebanese)
- 180 grams (6.4 ounces) crab
- 20 grams (0.71 ounces) cilantro 6 sprigs, finely minced
- 30 grams (1.06 ounces) red onion, (~1/4 small red onion) finely minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
- Salt to taste
- Trim the tapered ends off the cucumbers and cut them into 2/3-inch (16mm) thick pieces.
- Use a very small melon baller, or a round metal measuring spoon to scoop out the insides of each piece of cucumber to make a small cup. You want to scoop out as much as you can without rupturing the bottom or sides. It's easiest to do this by rotating the cucumber around the spoon while applying even pressure.
- Sprinkle the carved side of the cucumber with a little salt and then flip them over onto some paper towels and let them drain for 10-15 minutes. This not only seasons the cucumber, it draws out some of it's juices, preventing your canapés from getting watery as they sit.
- To make the crab salad, add the crab, cilantro, red onion, olive oil and lemon juice to a bowl and mix to combine. Taste and add salt if needed.
- Cover the salad and cucumbers and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
- To serve, just use a small spoon to fill each cucumber cup with a mound of crab salad.
Yield: 40 cups
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.