Having an overflowing stash of buttery, perfectly ripe avocados on hand at all times makes my mom the happiest person in the world. And for that reason, this recipe is something of an homage to her love for the pear-shaped, green-fleshed fruit.
If there is ever an avocado shortage in my mom’s part of the world, I know whodunnit.
On the plus side, there are plenty of things my mom could hoard that would be worse than holding on to a stash of avocados – old magazines, mismatched socks, cats…
And at least her habit-of-choice means my family will never be without fresh guacamole.
So… thanks, Mom, I guess?
This dish is simultaneously a tribute to her beloved produce, and to one of my family’s favorite appetizers that hails from a sushi restaurant frequented when we visit my sister in Oahu.
So which came first? The crab or the avocado?
I love a good ancient proverb.
Before we dive into the details of these superb seafood boats, I’ll regale you with a Hawaiian anecdote.
Before the worldwide pandemic made travel slightly more difficult, my parents and I would soar across the country once a year to visit my sister’s island abode. On one of our first trips there, she led us to Sansei, a modern Japanese eatery brimming with original twists on traditional sushi.
We made a habit of filling up on their most famous appetizer: a silky roll of rosy ahi enclosed in a golden, flash-fried panko shell, drowning in soy and wasabi butter sauce.
Hey. Stop drooling. I can see you, ya know.
But no matter how many crisp sashimi rounds my mom popped into her mouth during the first course, she would hold strong to her double order of the mango crab salad hand rolls.
The stunning plate featured creamy crab salad, herbs, local greens, and mango wrapped in emerald-colored soybean paper. The plump cylinders stood upright in a pool of sweet and spicy Thai vinaigrette.
I was a sucker for the panko-crusted ahi, but balanced it with bites of mango hand roll when my palate craved a hit of something fruity. The refreshing blend of sweet crab and juicy tropical fruit is a combination that’s stuck with me over the years.
Naturally, concocting a dish of my own that included a similar marriage of flavors was a no-brainer.
When I want something that’s not only light and bright, but guaranteed to bring a smile to my mom’s face, this crab and mango stuffed avocado reminds me of those Hawaiian vacations.
There’s no avocado in Sansei’s sushi-esque crab salad roll, but in my recipe, creamy avocado halves play the part of the edible vehicle. Avocados as a life raft for crab? Mahalo.
Crunchy bell peppers bring a citrusy pop while shallots add a delicate oniony note that cuts through the sweet elements. Jalapenos – with the seeds and ribs removed to negate the heat – bring a grassy flavor.
This fun recipe will be part of your go-to seafood recipes. Our avocado boats that are elegant, yet easy enough to make any day of the week. Juicy mango and crab meat bring sweetness, while jalapeno and lime-herb dressing add zesty flavor.
And leave it to tons of tart lime zest and juice to wake up every ingredient in the bowl.
If you’re a novice when it comes to zesting citrus, give this guide that covers the best microplanes and zesters for your home a look before moving on.
As for the crab meat, the good stuff is a little pricey. There’s no denying that. But this recipe really stretches it out.
You also want to use the highest quality seafood since you’re essentially eating the meat (almost) straight from the container as opposed to, you know, packing it into mayo-laden patties that are pan-seared and covered in cocktail sauce.
Recreating flavor memories in my kitchen may be my way of summoning delicious mementos, but even if you’ve never stepped foot off the mainland, you’ll happily devour these all the same.Print
Buttery avocado halves act as the vehicle for this citrusy crab and mango salad with shallots, sweet bell peppers, and spicy jalapenos.
- 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium ripe mango, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 1/3 red bell pepper, diced (about 1/3 cup)
- 1/2 large shallot, diced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 medium jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and diced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces lump crab meat
- 6 large, ripe Hass avocados
- Zest the lime, juice half of the lime, and add the zest and juice to a medium mixing bowl.. Reserve the other half of the lime to squeeze over the sliced avocado. Add 2 tablespoons of the cilantro and the basil to the bowl and stir with a whisk to combine. Add the oil gradually in a thin stream, whisking while you pour, to emulsify the dressing.
- Add the mango, bell pepper, shallot, jalapeno, salt, and black pepper to the bowl, and toss to coat in the dressing. Gently fold in the crab meat and season to taste with additional salt if necessary. Set aside.
- Halve the avocados and remove the pits. Squeeze and rub the remaining lime half over the sliced avocados to keep them from oxidizing.
- Evenly scoop the crab-mango salad into the avocado halves, arrange on a platter, garnish with cilantro, and serve immediately.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Crab
- Method: No-Cook
- Cuisine: Seafood
Keywords: crab, mango, avocado, pepper, shallot, jalapeno
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Gather Ingredients, and Prep the Mango
Gather all of your ingredients, and wash the produce.
Slice the bottom tip off the mango so it stands upright. Using a sharp knife, peel the skin away from the flesh in thin strips. Slicing downward, cut the flesh away from the pit to create half circles.
Lay one of the pieces flat-side down and slice horizontally to create a few slabs. Keeping the slabs intact, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips, and then cut crosswise again to dice, rocking the knife steadily as you go.
Since the mango’s shape is irregular, it’s okay if all the pieces aren’t exactly the same size. Aim for a small dice.
For more information on how to select, store, and cut fresh mangoes, be sure to review our full prep tutorial!
Step 2 – Prep and Measure Remaining Ingredients
Zest the whole lime, and juice half. Chop the cilantro and basil. Remove the seeds, and dice the bell pepper and jalapeno. Remove the skin, and dice the shallot.
You’ll typically find fresh, already cooked crabmeat in (or near) the seafood section of the grocery store in a plastic container, and flavor-wise, this is preferred over canned. Smaller flaked crabmeat is fine, but lump pieces add bigger chunks that contribute more texture to the salad.
Select avocados that are ripe and ready to eat, but be careful not to select overly ripe ones – their flesh may have some brown spots, or they may be too soft for a nice presentation.
Step 3 – Make the Lime-Herb Dressing
Add the zest of the lime and the juice to a medium-size mixing bowl. The other half of the lime will be used to squeeze and rub over the sliced avocado halves so they don’t oxidize and turn brown before being filled.
Add 2 tablespoons of the cilantro and the basil to the bowl, and then whisk in the olive oil to make a vinaigrette. It might seem like a lot of herbs in proportion to the liquid, but the dressing is meant to be light, and the fresh herbs add tons of flavor.
Step 4 – Add the Remaining Ingredients to Make the Crab-Mango Salad
To assemble the crab-mango salad, add the mango, bell pepper, shallot, jalapeno, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to the bowl.
Toss the veggies to coat them in the dressing, and then gently fold in the crab meat. If you’re using lump crab meat, be especially careful so you don’t break up those large chunks of crab.
Season to taste with extra salt if necessary. Set the mixture aside. If you don’t want to serve this dish right away, you can refrigerate the salad at this point, and wait to prep the avocados until just before serving.
Step 5 – Prep the Avocados, Stuff, and Serve
Halve the avocados and remove the pits. Cut a thin sliver from the rounded sides so they can sit flat and don’t roll around on the plate.
Squeeze the remaining half of the lime over the avocado halves to keep them from oxidizing. Rub the juiced lime over every part of the flesh to ensure you haven’t missed any spots.
Generously but neatly – we’re going for an elegant presentation! – scoop the crab-mango salad into the avocado halves. You can also overstuff them so some of the filling spills over onto the plate if you like, for a more rustic look.
Arrange the stuffed avocados on a platter, garnish with the cilantro, and serve immediately.
Mastering the Mango
At least where I live, ripe mangos are readily available in almost every grocery store. Well, unless my mom got to them first…
If you ask me, though, I think the reason for the surplus is because folks are often afraid of skinning and slicing them at home. But mangos are a cinch to work with once you get the hang of it.
They can create a slippery mess on the cutting board, however, so if I’m already planning to prep one, I usually go ahead and bang out a bunch. Mangos freeze like a pro for recipes like homemade sorbet, and you can never have enough mango cucumber salsa in your fridge.
A mix of lemon and lime is a welcome addition to any seafood salad, don’t you think? What types of citrus will you choose when you whip these up?
Share your zestiest tips in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Ocean fare is the perfect plan when you need to break up a boring streak of weeknight dinners. Keep the seafood theme going strong with these sensational recipes:
- Low Country Boil with Homemade Seasoning Mix
- Western Tex-Mex Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli
- Lemon Garlic Shrimp
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Lorna Kring on June 10, 2015. Last updated on March 24, 2022.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”