This is a goody fancy snack to have with drinks to impress your friends and is quite easy to make. It has a delicate creaminess to it that is balanced with the freshness of celery and tang of the pickled onion, perfect with a glass of Champagne.






Skill level

Average: 4.3 (6 votes)


  • ½ small red onion, very finely sliced
  • 1 tsp raw caster sugar
  • 1 tsp river salt
  • 20 ml cider vinegar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 100 ml grapeseed oil
  • 50 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 8 slices good rye sourdough (see Note)
  • oil, for brushing
  • 120 g raw blue swimmer crab meat (from 1 x 350 g crab)
  • ⅓ cup finely diced peeled celery, briefly blanched and refreshed
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • river salt and white pepper, to season

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Standing time 1 hour

Place onion in a small bowl and massage in the sugar and salt. Set aside for 30 minutes before squeezing out any excess liquid. Mix in the vinegar and set aside for at least another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

To make mayonnaise, place the egg yolks, mustard and a pinch of salt into a small mixing bowl. Combine the oils together and slowly drizzle them in, whisking as you go. Add lemon juice (and 1–2 tablespoons of hot water, if you prefer a thinner consistency) and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To make toast, brush bread with oil and char over a grill or on a hotplate. Or in a toaster if you must. Don’t do this too much ahead of time, it’s best if the toast is still warm.

Mix raw crabmeat with a tiny splash of oil and a hint of seasoning. Lay it out in a flat pile on a small baking tray and place it into the preheated oven for about 2 minutes before pulling it out. Give the crab a little mix with a spoon to check if it’s cooked; you may need to place it back in for another minute or so. You want the crab to be just cooked, to the point where it’s no longer translucent but only just. When you are satisfied, remove from the oven and scrape the meat into a bowl, tipping out any liquid.

Squeeze the pickled onion slices to get rid of the liquid and add them, along with the celery, to the bowl with crab. Mix to combine.

Spread a nice amount of the mayonnaise over each slice of toast and then top with the crab mixture, divided evenly over each piece of toast.

Sprinkle with chives, cut each slice into thick fingers and serve immediately.



• Any delicious sturdy bread will work here; just make sure it’s not too strongly flavoured.


Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Rachael Lane.


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This recipe is part of The Seasonal Cook: Crab column.


View previousThe Seasonal Cook columns and recipes.