Charleston Crab Dip

I have a long history with crabs. Not the icky kind, the crustacean kind. When I was a girl in Florida, us kids would go out on the causeway with a bunch of chicken necks and some twine. It ridiculously easy to catch crabs. They’re so dumb. You tie a long piece of twine to a chicken neck, hurl it in the water and then wait. When you feel a little tug, you know there’s a crab on the other end. Just pull that string in slowly and have someone waiting with a net. Ocean City, MD (43)I have no idea who these children are. I got this off Google. Isn’t it great that you can type just anything in and some image will pop up? At any rate, this is what crabbing with twine, chicken necks and a net looks like.

So we’d get the crabs home and just boil them in a pot of water, melt some butter and go to town. Years and years later, when I was a sophisticated girl about town in her 30s, I’d go to Charleston all the time to buy clothes. That’s a whole ‘nother story but I spent a fortune down there. I did pay retail, going against the first rule of shopping for a Southern woman.  But you know what? I can still wear a lot of those clothes 20 years later. Now that’s investment dressing.

crabdip1abEvery seafood restaurant in Charleston served crab dip. I don’t know if they still do, but if they don’t they’re missing a bet. It always came in a melmac bowl surrounded by Captain’s Wafers still in their cellophane wrappers. I just couldn’t get enough of it. Every time I’d go to Charleston, I’d just skip the seafood dinner and chow down on the crab dip. Of course, I’d always ask for the recipe but nobody would give it to me. Until one day, during an obviously weak moment, one of the waitresses let it slip. I pulled out a paper bag I had for some reason and wrote it down. When I got home, I cut the recipe out of the bag. And here it is!

Isn’t it sad that I never even transferred it to a recipe card?DSCN0430 You might not be able to read this so here’s the recipe.

Charleston Crab Dip

1 1/4 cups mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s)

1 cup lump crabmeat

1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon horseradish

4 tablespoons French dressing (the orange kind)

I am a big believer in spending the necessary cash when you have one ingredient that’s the star of the recipe. That’s why I go with lump crab. It’s just the best. And you have to serve the dip with Captain’s Wafers, or Ritz in a crunch. I am telling you, you will thank me for this recipe.

The reason I thought of this at all is that my friend, Gail, is going on vacation to a southern seaport that is not Charleston. But if she takes a slight detour from the obvious route, she can stop by Charleston and get some crab dip. And she’s just the girl to do it. I once drove two hours out of my way for a particular hamburger. Gail appreciates that kind of dedication.


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6 responses to “Charleston Crab Dip

  1. RibDog


    Do you mix these ingredients all together and let the flavors meld together for a while before serving?

  2. Terrell Jones

    I would like to know the answer to John’s question also.

  3. Joy McLemore

    Yum, Catherine! Can’t wait to try it.

  4. melissa

    Bless your heart! I’m a Charleston Native now living in Florida on the Space Coast! It does bring back memories for me reading this as a child I must have been the same age as you because you nailed the crab dip and it’s so true about every seafood establishment having it come out w/ the menus and yes I would make a meal out of it as well.

    I left 10 years ago and now make this dip here for parties and call it my Charleston Trawler recipe which is sacred to me for the memories the flavor brings back!

    • the south in my mouth

      And I always remember they had Captain’s Wafers on the table to go with the crab dip. It’s the only way I eat it!

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