Crab Louie Salad with Grilled Romaine and Horseradish Crema Gel

There are some things you cook because you’re hungry, it’s easy, and you need to get food on the table.  I love those type of recipes- easy tacos, spaghetti, or a simple sandwich with chips or Mac and cheese.  However, there are some times when you want to serve a showstopper, an amazing dish that shows people “they know their way around a kitchen.” My recipe for Crab Louis Salad with Grilled Romaine and Horseradish Crema Gel is one of those recipes.  It’s beautiful, it’s decadent, and it is a flavor bonanza, especially on a hot summer night.  And the best part, this recipe is not really that hard, it just takes some planning.  So, strap on, we’re going to create a “blow the mother-in-law away” dish that will have everyone thinking you went to culinary school!

You’ll need a few supplies and different ingredients

To do this dish, you’ll need a few things that most kitchens don’t have in stock.  If you’re a baker, good.  You’ll need a non-stick baking mat (I use Silpat brand)and a 3″x2″ food form, or biscuit cutter.  Depending on how many servings you’ll be making, you may need 2 or 3 baking mats.  I think you could use wax paper for this (we’re not cooking things, just firming them in the fridge) but I haven’t tested that out. You’ll also need unflavored gelatin.  For this ingredient, go to the aisle of the grocery store and look where they have all the Jello boxes.  It’s usually on the bottom shelf, and you may have to dust off a box.  Not a big seller, but, very useful to have!  For the horseradish, you can use prepared horseradish.  I also like to get fresh horseradish root and grate it as a garnish and in the gel for additional flavor and texture,  but if you can’t find it, don’t worry about it.

About Crab Louie Salads

If you look around, there are many recipes going back years and years for a “Crab Louie Salad.  Generally, they involve some type of dressing to coat the crab, lettuce, and boiled eggs.  I never really thought boiled eggs went with this dish, so I definitely just used the basic recipe as inspiration and struck out on my own with this version.  Many versions call for Dungeness crab meat, but I’m from the South and Blue Crab meat is what we have.  Because this is a special occasion dish, I’m using Jumbo Lump Crab meat.  You can also use lump crab meat.  The flavor will be the same but there is something quite decadent in using jumbo lump meat.  A note of caution, when you are tossing the crab meat in the dressing, be very, very gentle.  Fold, rather than stir.  You’re paying a premium for those beautiful lumps of crab, so don’t break them up.

Crab Louis dressing also has a ton of variations out there.  I’ve seen them compared to Russian dressing, but I think they really need a remoulade dressing, so that’s what I’ve used. My Lucky 7 seasoning goes great with seafood, so there’s a bit of that in the “remoulade-ish” recipe.  Keep a bit of the Lucky 7 around to sprinkle over the whole dish (very lightly.). It seemed to really tie everything together when I was making this. There’s also made a super-quick chive vinaigrette for a change in flavor in the recipe.  I drizzled a bit over the tomatoes and along the plate, and it’s a quite nice fun flavor change.

Making the Horseradish Crema Gel

To get to showstopper status, we’re going to make this dish in layers.  A layer of thinly sliced avocados. Then, a layer of horseradish cream gel.  Follow that with the jumbo lump crabmeat tossed in the dressing, and garnishes.  You can make the cream gel the day before on a sheet pan with a non stick mat or a piece of wax paper.   Wrap the sheet pan in clear-wrap, then refrigerate.  Use the food ring to cut out circles of the Crema gel, then put it in the center of your plate.  At the bottom, put a double layer of the avocado slices, and slightly press them down.  Gently using a couple of thin spatulas, pick up the ring of crema gel and place over the avocado.  Then, just fill up the ring with crab meat!  Easy peasy! Garnish and serve to mad acclaim over your chef skills!

What to serve after

Here’s a serious problem.  You just made your mother-in-law with your amazing dish, but that’s just an appetizer.  What can you do to follow up that showstopper?  If you want to stay in the seafood theme, a  frutti-di-mare pasta would be delish.  But, might I suggest a reverse-seared steak and Poblano Creamed Corn.  Time it right, and you’ll put the steaks on well before dinner, have a cocktail and chat, then blow everyone away with your appetizer.  Meekly excuse yourself to clear the dishes, turn the skillet with the corn back on to heat up (prepared earlier,) go fire up the steak on the hot side of the grill or torch it for amazing char.  Guess what, didn’t even break a sweat.  Drop mike. smirk at Mother-in-law while she has to thank you for an amazing dinner.

That’s winning.

Now, get out there and let everyone know you’re a badass!  Grill on!

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Crab Louie Salad with Grilled Romaine and Horseradish Crema Gel


This amazing jumbo lump crab meat salad is as delicious and cooling as it is beautiful.  It does take a bit of planning but it is very simple to execute, and will never fail to elicit ooh’s and aaah’s from your family and friends.



8 oz jumbo lump crab meat

3 hearts of romaine

1 pint cherry heirloom tomatoes

6 oz Mexican Crema

1 packet unflavored gelatin

2 oz prepared horseradish

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

12 ripe avocados, depending upon size

For the Chive Vinaigrette

1.5 TBS chopped Chives

1 TBS white wine vinegar

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp minced shallots

1 tsp honey

3 TBS EVOO (good stuff, don’t use the off brands, it’s probably not even all olive oil)

salt and pepper, to taste

For the “Louie” remoulade sauce

1 cup mayo

3 TBS brown spicy mustard or Whole Grain Mustard

1 TBS prepared horseradish

1 TBS minced fresh Italian Parsley

2 tsp sweet pickle relish

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp Lucky 7 Seasoning

1 tsp Hungarian Paprika

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp cayenne


Ahead of time, prepare the following:

For the “Louis sauce” mix all ingredients and refrigerate.

For the “Chive vinaigrette,” this is best made right before serving.  However, you can make ahead and refrigerate.  Please remove from fridge at least 1 hour before serving in order for Olive oil to go back to room temp.

-Add all ingredients except olive oil.  While whisking constantly, drizzle in olive oil to form emulation.  Taste for salt and pepper, and set aside.

For the Horseradish Crema

Add crema, salt, pepper, and horseradish to a bowl and incorporate.  In a separate dish, dissolve gelatin sheet in water according to directions. Mix in with crema mixture, and pour onto non-stick surface.  Refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours.

Using a food mold cutter of around 3″ diameter, cut 4 cuts out of horseradish crema.

Slice avocados into very thin slices.

Slice tomatoes in half

GENTLY toss crab meat with just enough remoulade to coat crab meat

Set out 4 appetizer plates.  If you have multiple food molds you can do this assembly line fashion. If you have just one, make each plate separately.

Lay a double layer of avocado slices on the bottom.

Using a spatula, lift cut outs of crema gelee and place over mold, then drop into place.

Fill mould with tossed crab meat, then top with micro greens.

On plate, add cut tomatoes and drizzles of chive vinaigrette.


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