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Rod Butters’ Crab Cappuccino Recipe from The Okanagan Table Cookbook


The Okanagan Table: The Art of Everyday Home Cooking is Chef Rod Butters‘ latest cookbook and a Silver winner at the Taste Canada Awards. The cookbook is a love letter to the Okanagan terroir and the bountiful landscape of British Columbia.

It celebrates regional flavours, the farm-to-table approach to cooking, and encourages the home cook to create exceptional meals by connecting to fresh, local and high-quality food.

Flip through the cookbook and you’ll find recipes for dishes like Oat-Crusted Arctic Char and Root Vegetable Torte; both examples of how Chef Rod uses flavourful local produce to create bold menus.

We asked Chef Rod to share one of his most prized recipes and he served up this seafood dish featuring delightful West Coast crab.

Crab Cappuccino Recipe by Rod Butters

My customers constantly ask for this recipe, and I’ve never given it out—until now. This is a tweaked version of the original at my restaurant, which would be too labour-intensive for the home cook. This immensely popular soup makes use of amazing West Coast Dungeness crab, which I usually bring in from Tofino. The frothed milk topping is a nod to the cappuccino, so we playfully serve it in a coffee cup—it’s a showy and decadent way to start a meal. 

Serves 4


2 small Dungeness crabs

4 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1 small onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1/4 head fennel, chopped

8 button mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

6 cups vegetable stock

1 cup whipping (35%) cream

1 cup canned diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon yellow or black mustard seeds

4 bay leaves

Sea salt and black pepper

1/2 cup steamed milk, to garnish

Dried fish roe, to serve (optional)

Fried fennel fronds, to serve (optional)


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the crabs, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and transfer the crabs to a bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, crack them open and remove the meat. Discard the tomalley. Remove the crabmeat and set aside, reserving the shells. Break the shells into small pieces.

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat, add the oil and crab shells and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the shells turn slightly brown. Add the butter, onion, celery, fennel, mushrooms, and garlic and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes, until the bottom of the pot starts to colour. Use the spoon to scrape it occasionally.

Add the tomato paste and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. The bottom of the pot should take on a lot of colour. Scrape and stir. Add the flour, stir thoroughly, and cook for a minute. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well, scraping the bottom of the pot as much as possible. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 35 to 45 minutes. Strain carefully through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the shells and spices. Strain again into a pot, then taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. Reheat.


Use an electric mini whisk to froth the milk. Place the crabmeat in coffee cups, ladle in the soup, and top with steamed frothy milk. Garnish with dried fish roe and fried fennel fronds, if using.


Road 13 Vineyards, 2015 Chip off the Old Block Chenin Blanc (Oliver)

Crisp, with key lime citrus and minerality

Excerpted from The Okanagan Table by Rod Butters. Photographs by David McIlvride. Copyright 2017 by Rod Butters. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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