Five-Spice Crab and Shrimp Cocktails / This cocktail is super-simple to make, but because it features indulgent ingredients, it feels sophisticated and special-occasion.

Five-Spice Crab and Shrimp Cocktails

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Adapted from the Viognier chapter of “100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love” by Jill Silverman Hough (Wiley, 2010)

If you’re looking for an elegant way to start a meal, look no further. Five-Spice Crab and Shrimp Cocktails are super-simple to make, but because they feature indulgent ingredients—crab and shrimp—they feel sophisticated and special-occasion. Ideally, use fresh seafood from a good fishmonger, but canned will work as well.

The dish is great on its own, but with a glass of Viognier, it’s a knock-out—one of those delicious situations where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder, plus more for garnish (see below)
  • 8 ounces large cooked, peeled shrimp, ideally tail-on
  • 8 ounces cooked lump crabmeat, picked over
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus leaves for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and five-spice powder. Set aside. (You can prepare the mayonnaise mixture up to 3 days in advance, storing it covered in the refrigerator.)

Set about 8 of the shrimp aside. Remove any tails from the remaining shrimp, then coarsely chop it.

In a medium bowl, combine the chopped shrimp, crab, chopped parsley, and shallot. Add about 3 tablespoons of the mayonnaise mixture, gently tossing to combine. Taste, ideally with your wine, and add more lemon juice if you like.

Spoon the mixture into decorative glasses. Top with the remaining mayonnaise mixture and reserved shrimp, dividing them evenly. Sprinkle with a dash of five-spice powder, garnish with the parsley leaves, and serve.

NOTE Chinese five-spice powder is available in either the spice section or the ethnic or Asian section of most major supermarkets. Besides using it in this recipe, you can make Almond Five-Spice Butter Cookies, sprinkle it on roasted meats and vegetables, and stir it into rice.

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