Crab Succotash

I have childhood memories of sweet creamy mix of corn and lima beans. It was a ubiquitous side dish that came from the freezer. It wasn’t a culinary treat as much as it was more like a kiddy comfort food. Corn kernels, lima beans and some butter, known as succotash all over the United States.

I had forgotten about this dish until I saw some fantastic sweet corn at the Marché from Annie Bertin.  Most French don’t eat corn, it is for the livestock, but recently with an influx of other cultures, it can be found more and more at market places. Plus with all those different kinds of fresh beans at the vegetables stalls at les Lices; green beans, fava, pintos, cocos de Paimpol, beautiful red peppers…. gave an the idea to make it from good fresh ingredients.

Sohquttahhash is a legendary American dish that goes back to the Narragansett tribe of the Algonquians on Long Island and the New England coast. Succotash is one of the dishes that the Native Americans taught to early settlers. The new Americans took it up and down the east coast, adding regional twists of spices and other vegetables to the corn kernel base.

At its simplest expression, of corn and beans, it is a poorman’s dish, filling and easy to make. But, like many basic dishes that have become popular in today’s search for the authentic, succotash has evolved into a something a bit fancier. It is great with seafood, a natural mix with its coastal origins.

This version adds some sweet crab meat, we used spider crab but you can use blues, Dungeness or even with lobster. It can be great side dish for grilled fish, too.

In any case this is an easy and versatile dish.

Crab Succotash


  1. Steam your crab or lobster until fully cooked
  2. Break down the crab to get all the meat and save the creamy parts (tomallly, liver) inside the shell
  3. Steam or boil your green beans until al dente (you want a little crunch, about 10-12 minutes)
  4. Cook the corn in boiling water  for 25 min ( or 4 min in the microwave, wrapped in wax paper)
  5. Cut the green beans into ¾ inch pieces – set aside
  6. Mince onion, pepper and garlic – set aside
  7. Cut kernels off the cobb – run a sharp knife just between cobb and kernels, it is easy – set aside
  8. In a large pot – sweat onions, garlic and peppers in a neutral oil , add the tomatoes.
  9. Add the green beans and the corn. Cook until all the ingredients come together
  10. Add the crab meat, and serve.

Ingredients  - 4 servings as a main dish

  • 1 good sized Crab or Lobster (Live if possible – enough to yield about 1 pound of meat, ours was a two pound spider crab)
  • 4 large ears of sweet corn (10 inches)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • ½ pound of fresh green beans (or lima beans, fava beans…)
  • 1 red bell pepper (minced)
  • 1 medium sweet onion (minced)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Sprig of thyme and rosemary
  • ½ cup of parsley minced
  • 3 oz. Shellfish butter (see market tips)  or a good regular butter
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper to taste