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Dungeness crab salad with Thai basil and mint

Time 1 hour
Yields Serves 4
Dungeness crab salad with Thai basil and mint
(Bryan Chan/Los Angeles Times)
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Dear SOS: I make a variety of crab salads, but I thought one I tasted at Grace restaurant was particularly good.

Tamar Wilson

Westwood Hills

Dear Tamar: We think it’s not just good but extraordinary, fragrant with fresh herbal flavors and a bright touch of lemon syrup. Neal Fraser, chef and co-owner of Grace, makes the syrup with Meyer lemons when they’re in season but substitutes other lemons the rest of the year. Leftover lemon syrup can be added to sparkling water for a refreshing summer drink.

Lemon vinaigrette

1

Combine 1 cup lemon juice and the sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to three-fourths cup of syrup. Cool.

2

Place the remaining 6 tablespoons of lemon juice in a small bowl. Add one-half cup lemon syrup and the grape seed oil. The acidity of the lemons will determine how much rice vinegar is needed (we used about 2 tablespoons with regular lemon juice). Add vinegar to taste and balance with more oil if needed.

Basil oil

1

Blanch the basil in boiling salted water for 20 seconds, then plunge in ice water to stop the cooking. Wring out the water. Combine the basil with the oil in a blender and puree. Add a dash of salt.

2

Place the mixture in a saucepan and bring it just to a boil. Remove from heat and allow it to steep 15 minutes. Strain the oil through cheesecloth or a chinois into a squirt bottle or small jar.

Salad and assembly

1

In a bowl, combine the crab, peas, mint, basil and microgreens. Add the lemon vinaigrette as needed, about 2 to 3 tablespoons, to dress the salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2

Place one-fourth of the mixture in a 3 1/2 -inch ring mold on one of four salad plates. Pack it down, then gently remove the ring. Garnish the top with microgreens. Repeat with the remaining three plates (or spoon the salad onto four plates). Garnish with more of the vinaigrette and the basil oil.

From Neal Fraser, chef and co-owner, Grace in Los Angeles.