La Jolla Crab Stack with Ginger-Lime Dressing

I’m steering clear of anything that involves pre-heating, sauteing, boiling or baking at the moment, as the mere thought of going near my stove gives me heatstroke.

But I was determined to beat the east coast heat with a no-cook dish that comes straight from one of my favorite hometown restaurants, Roppongi of La Jolla. Delicious. Healthy. Impressive. No oven required. The La Jolla Crab Stack has it all.

La Jolla Crab Stack with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Chef Stephen Windows stacks layer upon layer of fruits and veggies and then tops off the tower with a handful of fresh crab meat. A final drizzle of make-ahead ginger dressing gives this piled high stack a punch of far eastern flavor.

Ready to start stacking? Grab your knife and check out this quick video for how to cut perfect cubes of mango without any mess!

Step-by-Step Photos:

Step 1: Place a layer of pea shoots in the mold and then top with a layer of firmly packed tomatoes.

La Jolla Crab Stack with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Step 2: Place a layer of sliced cucumbers atop the tomatoes, fanning them out to fill the circular mold.

La Jolla Crab Stack with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Step 3: Layer the diced mango atop the cucumbers, then add the red onions.

La Jolla Crab Stack with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Step 4: Add a layer of avocado, pushing it firmly into the mold.

La Jolla Crab Stack with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Step 5: Add a layer of crab, then while pushing down on the crab with one hand, slowly slide the mold upward to reveal the layered La Jolla Crab Stack. Drizzle with ginger-lime dressing and serve.

La Jolla Crab Stack with Ginger-Lime Dressing


The La Jolla Crab Stack

Bypass the oven in favor of this quick and easy no-cook recipe for The La Jolla Crab Stack.
4.84 from 6 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 4 servings


  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup pea shoots
  • 1 cup diced Roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup diced mango
  • 1 cup diced avocado
  • 1 cup fresh crab meat


  • Prepare the dressing by whisking together the ginger, sugar, lime juice, garlic and water. Refrigerate the dressing overnight.
  • See step-by-step photos below to assemble each of the four crab stacks by tightly layering together in a mold one fourth of each of the pea shoots, tomatoes, cucumbers, mango, onions, avocado and crab. (If you don't have a mold, you can use any hollowed-out aluminum can or circular bottle).
  • Press down on the top layer while slowly removing the mold to reveal the freestanding crab stack. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to form a total of four crab stacks.
  • Drizzle the crab stacks with the ginger-lime dressing and serve.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!


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Recipe adapted from Roppongi Restaurant and Sushi Bar in La Jolla, Calif.

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Calories: 323kcal, Carbohydrates: 54g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 17mg, Sodium: 369mg, Potassium: 390mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 35g, Vitamin A: 6675IU, Vitamin C: 67.7mg, Calcium: 66mg, Iron: 3.3mg

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    1. Hi Angela! I used a ring mold that is 3 1/2 inches in width, but you can use any size that you have on hand. :)

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious! I prepared this dish with a 12 ounce package of defrosted Trader Joe’s Langostino Tails as I didn’t have any crab on hand. I placed it on top of dressed arugula. A perfect dinner. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  2. 4 stars
    The recipe produces 4 delicious and pretty plates. But 30 minutes?! Only if you don’t include the prep of peeling and mincing the ginger, peeling and dicing the red onion, squeezing 4 limes, peeling and mincing the garlic, washing the pea shoots, dicing the mango, dicing the avocado, checking the crab for shells, dicing tomatoes, thinly slicing cucumber, and measuring everything. The mixing and assembly are quick, once everything is mise en place, but this is a labor-intensive recipe.
    Easy, but labor intensive.

    I’m an experienced cook, and I might be able to plate 4 of these in 30 minutes IF someone was holding a gun to my head or auditioning me for a job on Food Network, and IF I didn’t care about good mincing and chopping or about being really messy, but, seriously — starting with all the raw, uncut ingredients out of the fridge and pantry and on the counter, this recipe will take more than 30 minutes, unless you’ve made it several times already and have it down to a practiced routine.

  3. 5 stars
    I made this for a birthday lunch. Everyone loved it and gave it a 5 star rating too. It was such an impressive presentation and it tasted wonderful. So refreshing. I made mine in clear cups and then flipped them over to serve. Could not find the pea shoots but used spring mix instead.

  4. Great recipe! Where do you find the mold? I made one, but might want to buy one. Thanks!!

  5. 5 stars
    I had this when in California – it was great. I am having 8 people for dinner – thus a bit rushed that day. Will the avocado turn brown if I make these the night before?

  6. 5 stars
    Hi Kelly,

    I love your La Jolla Crab Stack recipe.

    I would also really love to feature it in our website Greenthickies. Would that be okay?
    Can I use one of your recipe images for it? I will not be posting the actual recipe, but only one image, title, a small quote and link directly back to the original post.
    Will that be okay?

    Thanks a lot :)

  7. I prepared a version of this for a Valentine’s Day dinner party for 8 and what a hit it was. The dressing was divine. Instead of pea shoots I used arugula, topped with avocado and a sprinkle of salt, red onions previously marinated in some of the ginger lime dressing, romaine, mango which I had marinated in Brianna’s Ginger Mandarin dressing and marinated radishes. I used pickled ginger instead of fresh and I also placed baked lobster tails I bought from Costco frozen food section on the plate. Awesome. By the way it was in the seventies in Houston so appropriate.

  8. Hah! I just watched your “Food blogging for dummies” video on Youtube and realized that I pinned this recipe a few weeks before. It was featured in the video, now I’m more anxious to try it out myself. Keep up the good work!

  9. Would like to make the La Jolla Crab Shack – have 2 questions:
    Can I use shrimp in place of crabmeat ? What is the size of mold used ?
    Do not want to use a mold too small..


    1. Absolutely, Olga! You can use shrimp or any other seafood — even pulled chicken is great. And this ring mold is 3 1/2 inches in width, but you can use any size that you have on hand. Enjoy!

  10. Looks sensational-However!! Before I waste my time trying it (not unique by the way, very similar to a recipe/presentation featured in fine cooking not very long ago), I have grave concerns that the finished product can be extracted from the ring! Certainly not as featured? Like the recipe, but doubt it can be constructed as shown.

    1. Hi Frank! Just push down slightly on the top of the ingredients while pulling off the mold and it should release without any trouble!

  11. It all looked great until I scrolled down to see what the “foodies” were going to say. It is a deconstructed mango salsa with crab. Yes, it looks nice, but it doesn’t blow my skirt up. If you say this looks DELICIOUS, you have to say that every picture of every food looks DELICIOUS, or you aren’t being true to your own enthusiasm. I apologize to everyone who may not have known how to make a vertical salad, but it isn’t advanced culinary or anything. You can do it with a plastic cup.

  12. Thank you for posting this – the crab stack is one of my favorites at Roppongi’s. Can’t wait to try this recipe out!

  13. Hi Kelly, What size mold did you use? It looks delicious. Your book came in the mail last week. Many of the pages have post-it notes already. Love it. Thank you

    1. Pea shoots can be found in some grocery stores in the produce section (near the greens), but if you can’t find them, you can just use sprouts, arugula or even spinach — basically any other leafy green. Enjoy!

  14. Saw this pic and thought it reminded me of something I had at a restaurant once. When I read your comments, I realized this is the restaurant where I had it! 6 years ago on vacation and it was delicious.

  15. I’m so impressed with your presentation! Everything on your site looks beautiful and delicious, and yet your instructions make it so easy!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Brittaney! I hope you guys enjoy the ribs tonight – I am so jealous!

  16. This recipe just made my day! I’ve been facing the same struggle of wanting to cook but instead baking myself in my little NYC kitchen while my friends call out words of encouragement from their spots in front of the A/C- I’m definitely going to make this for a dinner I’m having on Wednesday, thanks Kelly!