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Apr 19, 2018

Causa Limeña de Cangrejo (Layered Potato, Crab, and Avocado Salad)

Causa Limeña de Cangrejo is a layered potato, crab, and avocado salad from Peru. The potatoes are infused with the flavors of lime and ají peppers. 

Causa Limeña de Cangrejo (Layered Potato, Crab, and Avocado Salad)

This Causa, or Peruvian potato salad, has a delicious layer of crab salad sandwiched between ají spiced potatoes and sliced avocado. Causas can also be made with shrimp, tuna, or chicken salad.

Potatoes are originally from Peru, and were domesticated by the Incas, so there are lots of theories as to how Causas got their name. One theory is that the name is from the Incan word for potato, or kausac. Another theory is that this layered potato salad got it's name from the war with Chile. It is said that women sold these potato salads on the streets to help raise funds for the cause (por la causa) (Source: Latin American Street Food by Sandra Gutierrez, 2013)

Causa Limeña de Cangrejo can be made like this one, in a large round, and then cut into slices. It can also be made in small round molds for individual servings.

Causa Limeña de Cangrejo (Layered Potato, Crab, and Avocado Salad)

This layered potato, crab, and avocado salad from Peru was seriously delicious. I was surprised by how tasty the Yukon Gold potatoes, mixed with olive oil, lime juice, and ají amarillo paste, another staple of Peruvian food, were.

Regarding the ají amarillo paste: If you can find fresh ají in your area (I cannot find them here), you can simmer the peppers and then blend them into a paste. I do have access to frozen ají peppers, but only in Asian grocery stores (for Lomo Saltado, the amazing Chinese Peruvian stir-fry).

For this potato salad, I used jarred ají amarillo paste, which is a great when you don't have the chiles on hand.

This is a unique and wonderful potato salad. I love spicy foods, and my husband loves potatoes, and potato salad in particular. Even though he's not a big fan of spicy foods, he loved this, which really made me happy! I thought I'd already pushed my limit with this Japanese Potato salad, which he also loved.

This recipe, adapted from Latin American Street Food, calls for lump crab meat, but I splurged and used claw meat. It was so sweet and delicious with the avocados and potatoes.

This month, the Fish Friday Foodies are making fish dishes inspired by Latin America. After the recipe, be sure to check out the rest of the Latin American fish dishes from the #FishFridayFoodies.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Causa Limeña de Cangrejo (Layered Potato, Crab, and Avocado Salad)


  • 3 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ají amarillo paste (see post above)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lump crab meat, drained well
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 avocados, roughly chopped, and tossed with lime juice
  • 1 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves for garnish


  1. In a four quart saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain and return the potatoes to the pan. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher, or run them through a ricer. 
  2. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, and add the rest to the potatoes, along with the olive oil, ají paste, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix well. 
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the crab, mayonnaise, red onion, and parsley. Mix gently to keep the crab pieces together. Add the tablespoon of lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. 
  4. Spray a ring from a 9 inch springform pan or a 9 inch ring mold with spray oil. Place it in the middle of a large plate or serving platter. Press half of the potatoes into the ring. Top it with the crab salad and spread evenly. Spread the chopped avocado over the crab, and top with the rest of the potatoes, and press to form an even layer. Chill for about 2 to 4 hours. 
  5. When ready to serve, remove the ring, and sprinkle the top with the olives, bell peppers, and parsley. Serve cold, sliced into cake-like wedges. 

Causa Limeña de Cangrejo (Layered Potato, Crab, and Avocado Salad)

Would you like to comment?

  1. What a beautiful dish, Karen! A super fancy potato salad for sure. I must confess, for all the time I spent in Peru as a child, I have never heard of this dish. My husband grew up there and he never has either! Clearly we have missed out.

    1. Well that is a bummer! Maybe it's a southern Peru thing!

  2. This looks wonderful! I remember hearing about the huge number of potato varieties when I was in Peru, quite amazing given what we have here. I don't think I ever had this when I was there, but I have come across it since. Must give it a try!

  3. I have never heard of this, but it looks amazing! Thanks for hosting, too, Karen. Can't wait to try so many of these recipes.

    1. Thanks Camilla. They are all so delicious aren't they?

  4. What an amazing presentation. It sounds so delicious. Great theme Karen.

  5. A beautiful salad that looks more like a cake, love the presentation.


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