At the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, the chef made an approachable crab sauté we'll be adding to our weeknight rotation.

Hugh Acheson
Credit: Abby Hocking

With summer here and seafood in abundance, its time to start thinking of crab in a whole new light: You might have only considered serving crab on special occasions—elegant dinner parties and backyard cookouts. But crab can be unassuming and simple to cook, as Hugh Acheson proved at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen over the weekend. So simple, in fact, that you can create a rich, flavorful crab sauté any night of the week in as little as 10 minutes. (See here for all the recipes from the weekend.

“Everybody is scared of crab,” Acheson says, “because it takes a lot of work for a little bit of crab.”

Yes, raw crabmeat is tough to remove from the claws—but never fear, there is an easier way. “This dish is really fast because usually, you’re buying pre-steamed crab. You can cook raw crab, but you can make this with Dungeness crab that’s been pre-steamed.”

Acheson’s crab sauté is what he calls “one messy, simple plate of food… This is meant to be like, get the newspaper down on the table type of food because it’s going to be a mess.”

All it takes is a couple of handfuls of crab and fresh herbs. Shellfish doesn’t have to be intimidating—it can even be a staple in your kitchen.

“I’m never going to do a demo on something that I don’t think you can do,” Acheson said. “Anybody can do this type of food.”

Here’s how to make Acheson’s crab sauté—easy enough to make after work for your family and perfect for communal eating.

First, you’ll need to gather miso, white wine, shallots, and Calabrian chilies—a “beautiful, fermented spicy chili.” Get your frying pan super hot, and working quickly, stir in a generous helping of butter, then add the chilies, followed by the miso. Pour in around a cup of white wine, which breaks down the miso. Add the shallots next, cooking for two minutes. At this point, you’ll toss in the cooked crab—“glazing it out” with your sauce—and sprinkle basil and mint over the top.

(Acheson loves using mint, which he calls “underrated." He says, “You can grow it everywhere, with abundance. It’s a perennial weed.”)

Keep stirring the mixture together, so the crab gets completely coated in the sauce. From there, all you have to do is cover the pan and steam for 10 minutes. Once it’s finished cooking, spoon the steaming crab, juices and all, directly onto a platter and serve.

Yes, it's time to start embracing shellfish on weeknights, if you aren't doing already.

“If I went to a restaurant and got this with a really cold bottle of white wine,” joked Acheson, “I would be like ‘This is so good.’”