Pesto Crab Roll

Pesto crab roll in a brioche bun


Our take on the legendary Maine lobster roll is significantly more affordable but just as delicious.

Brown crabs are among our favourite shellfish, but for this dish, we go the extra mile and hunt down spider crabs. It’s true, these weird-looking crustaceans aren’t going to win any beauty contests, but the idea of them being thrown back in the ocean as “trash fish” due to a lack of demand is scandalous.

Spider crabs' unfortunate name clearly doesn't endear them to a lot of people. There has been a concerted effort to rebrand them as "Cornish King Crab" but even if you were to brand them "Tinker Bell," you can't get around the way they look.

Thankfully, there are now online fishmongers who will supply live or cooked spider crab for a third the price of a similar-weight lobster. The sweet, precious meat they yield is good enough to rival lobster, and on occasion, we’ve wondered whether it might even be better.

Pro tip
We often hear people say that the only part of the spider crab worth bothering with is the leg meat because dealing with the body is far too pernickety. We disagree because, although it does take time, the body meat is the sweetest shellfish meat you will ever eat, and we'd never dream of throwing it away.


Ingredient Quantity
Crab meat 1 large male
Brioche rolls x2
Unsalted butter 30g
Lemon x1
Mayonnaise 50g
Pesto 25g
Seasoning to taste
Chives to garnish

Sit down and make yourself comfortable. The claw meat is a cinch to get to, but it can take a good 20 minutes to get every morsel out of the crab's body.

Search online for tutorials on breaking down a spider crab, or just follow the basic rule of any shellfish butchery and cookery: if it looks like it’s going to be nasty to eat, it probably is.

A classic lobster roll starts with a New England hot dog bun, but our sweet tooth means we prefer to opt for a brioche bun instead.

Liberally butter the roll, and we mean liberally. We're not at Weight Watchers tonight; this is a crab roll, and crab rolls must involve lashings of butter.

Spread the pesto over the butter. Mix the crab meat with a dash of lemon juice and good-quality Kewpie-style mayonnaise. Give it a taste and add some salt and pepper to your liking.

Load the roll with the crab mixture, and garnish with chives.

Devour without guilt and wake up in the morning with a plan for how you're going to burn off the calories.

Serving suggestions
Leafy salad with a piquant vinaigrette
Homemade coleslaw
Cold potato salad
French fries and lemon wedges
Mac 'n' cheese