It’s spring, officially, but on the same date, spring can be brightly different in different cities. Here in New York, the trees have blossomed and a few green leaves are poking out. Yet, it still seems cold in the daytime and you see winterish coats everywhere.

In Seattle, where my daughter happily resides alongside the rain, the daffodils are long gone, so are the tulips. Rhododendrons are in full bloom there. In New York City, we have buds.

Seattle is ahead in one other key category: asparagus. Fresh local asparagus abounds. Thin stems, to be sure, because Seattle has just set a record for rain, not sunny days. Last week, we saw mounds of asparagus at the farmers markets. And it’s Seattle: there is crab in abundance, too.

From 30 Years at Ballymaloe, here is an ever so slightly hot combination of crab and asparagus, blended with some Thai mayonnaise. Now, Thai mayonnaise made with fish sauce is surely not a staple of Irish cuisine. But Darina Allen, creator of the grand cooking school Ballymaloe, has become an international figure and her pantry has ingredients spanning the world.

Our picture above shows a slight change from the directions below. Our asparagus spears were thin, so we did not cut them in half. We had had arugula, we had, but it was consumed the night before in our salad. With or without arugula, or any other greens, this dish is just ideal for Sunday brunch.

Crab and Asparagus with Thai Mayonnaise on Sourdough 

Yield: 4 servings


For the crab and asparagus topping:

  • 8 asparagus spears
  • Sea salt
  • 8 ounces crabmeat
  • 4 slices of sourdough bread, slicked no more than ½ inch thick
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Handful of arugula leaves 

For the Thai mayonnaise:

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  •  ½ red chili, seeded and finely diced
  • Freshly grated zest of ½ lime
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise, ideally home made
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Bring water to a boil in an oval casserole or saucepan that will hold the asparagus spears. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt per 2 cups of water. Prepare the asparagus spears by snapping off the touch end where it bends naturally. Lay the asparagus in the boiling water and cook for 4 minutes, depending on the thickness. The asparagus should still be crisp and al dente for this recipe. Removed the asparagus with a slotted spoon and plunge immediately into cold water. Refresh under cold running water and drain thoroughly.

To make the Thai mayonnaise, stir the garlic, chili, lime zest, fish sauce, and chopped cilantro into the mayonnaise. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary. Mix the crabmeat into the mayonnaise and set aside.

To serve, broil or toast the bread. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and scatter a few arugula leaves over each slice. Pile the crab mixture on top. Toss the cold asparagus spears in a little olive oil and split each spear in half length wise. Arrange the asparagus over the crabmeat and serve immediately.


Source: 30 Years at Ballymaloe by Darina Allen

Photo Information [top picture]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5.0 for 1/50th second at ISO-1600