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Crabe a la Toulonnaise

Chef Laurent Gras Recipes

Crabe a la Toulonnaise

Alta Editions

The flavor of crab pairs well naturally with the richness of butter and cream. The mussels and their cooking liquid, which is used as the base of the sauce, add a briny taste of the sea. Cayenne, white pepper, and wine round out the overall flavor of the dish.
— Laurent Gras

This Provence-inspired Crabe a la Toulonnaise recipe is a preview from chef Laurent Gras's multiple IACP award-winning cookbook, My Provence.

4 servings   |   Prep Time: 40 minutes   |   Cooking Time: 20 minutes



For the Mussels

  • 2 ¼ pounds (2 kg) mussels, preferably bouchot or other small mussels
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 10 celery leaves
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium (50 g) shallots, minced
  • Sea salt
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) dry white wine, such as Côte de Provence
  • Freshly ground white pepper

For the Sauce Toulonnaise

  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup (45 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups (700 ml) cooking liquid from the mussels (see above)
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) heavy cream
  • Sea salt
  • Cayenne pepper

For the Crab

  • 1 pound (500 g) lump crabmeat
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup (100 g) breadcrumbs
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 5 sprigs Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • Sea salt


For the Mussels

  1. Place the mussels in a mixing bowl and rinse them under cold running water. When the water runs clear, let the mussels drain in a pasta strainer. Using a small piece of twine, tie the bay leaf, thyme, and celery leaves into a small bouquet garni. Pour the olive oil into a stockpot and set over low heat. Add the garlic and shallot and sweat for 5 minutes, without letting them brown. Season with salt. Add the wine and the mussels and cover the pot. Turn the heat to high and cook just until the mussels open, 5 to 7 minutes, depending on their size. Shake the pot a couple of times while cooking to move the mussels from the bottom to the top and vice versa to ensure even cooking. Using a skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a large platter. Strain the mussel cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve and reserve. Remove the mussels from their shells by hand. Discard the shells.

For the Sauce Toulonnaise

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir using a wooden spoon until smooth. This is called a roux. Cook until the roux turns a light golden color, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the mussel juice and the cream together in a separate saucepan. Leaving about ¾ cup (200 ml) of this mixture aside, pour the rest into the roux, whisking continuously, until smooth. Taste, and add more mussel juice if needed for flavor and/or consistency. The saltiness of the mussel juice may vary. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt and cayenne. Set aside until ready to use.

For the Crab

  1. Place the crabmeat on a platter to loosen up the meat and remove any bits of crab shell.
  2. To toast the breadcrumbs, melt the butter in a small sauté pan over low heat. Add the garlic and the breadcrumbs. Stir until the mixture takes on a light golden color. Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon zest, parsley, and a pinch of salt, and mix well. Set aside until needed.

To Assemble the Dish

Bring the sauce back to a simmer while stirring. Add the mussels and the crabmeat and turn down the heat to low. Do not allow the mixture to boil or it will overcook the shellfish. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if necessary. When hot, ladle this mixture into a serving bowl. Sprinkle the top with the toasted breadcrumbs and serve.

Get this recipe and over 40 other delicious Provence-inspired dishes in Laurent Gras: My Provence, the award-winning online cookbook from renowned chef Laurent Gras, for $9.99.
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