This Thai-flavored salad depends on the availability of very fresh lump crabmeat. Always use pre-cooked, high-quality crabmeat, which is moist and ivory colored. Or, try using mussels in place of the crab: simply steam open 1 lb. (2 kg.) small mussels, and then shell them and toss in with the noodles.
Rice Noodles with Fresh Crab
Kosher salt for cooking noodles
1/2 lb. (250 g.) dried flat rice noodles, about 1/4 inch (6 mm.) wide
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) coconut milk
2-3 Tbs. fish sauce
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
Grated zest of 1 lime
2-4 Thai chiles, sliced (optional)
1 cup (1 oz./40 g.) mung bean sprouts
1/2 English cucumber, cut into paper-thin slices
1/2 lb. (250 g.) fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shell fragments and cartilage and flaked
1/2 cup (1/2 oz./15 g.) fresh cilantro leaves
In a large pot, bring 4 qt. (4 l.) water to a rapid boil. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt and the noodles, stir well, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 3-5 minutes. Drain in a colander, place under cold running water to cool, and drain again thoroughly.
In a bowl, stir together the coconut milk, fish sauce to taste, lime juice, lime zest and chiles to taste, if using. Add the bean sprouts, cucumber and crabmeat and toss gently to combine.
Transfer the noodles to a large, shallow serving bowl. Arrange the crab mixture over the noodles. Scatter the cilantro on top. Serve at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours and serve chilled. Serves 4.