Last night I made crab and Mai Tai's for dinner. That was the theme, I just woke up with it. Trader Vic, eat your heart out.
Our friend Clark Magruder came over and pronounced my crab salad the "best crab dish I have ever had" — which if you knew Clark's history, is an epic review!
While I'm swollen with pride, let me write down the recipes. The critical elements are:
— which we get from our mouthwatering C.S.F., Ian and Charlie's Ocean2Table Sustainable Seafood scheme
One of those terrifying yet brilliant Japanese mandolines
A sharp vinaigrette
Trader Vic's-Style Mai Tai
It's difficult to find this drink in a restaurant or commercial bar. What is typically sold as a "Mai-Tai" is like Kool-Aid with rum-snot. This classic recipe is special, an honor to your mouth. Jeff Beach-Bum Berry can school you on how the whole scandal came to pass.
So make this yourself or you will have to make a pilgrimage to Smuggler's Cove.
Make a quantity of shaved or finely crushed ice and keep it at the ready in your freezer, in a mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, load your cocktail shaker with ice and shake up the following:
1 oz light rum, Chauffre-Couer
1 oz black rum, Gosling's Black Seal
1/2 oz Orgeat syrup
1/2 Cointreau or Orange Curacao
1/4 Simple Syrup
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
Garnish: fresh mint
Fill a 6-8 oz. glass with a 1/2 cup of shaved ice, then strain your cocktail over the ice. Take the Black Rum and drizzle a floater of liquid on the top. Add a fragrant sprig of mint to the drink; just spank it once and pop it in.
Crab Veggie Salad
Prepare the following, to toss in a large salad bowl:
Clean, crack, and pull the meat from four crabs
Hardboil five eggs, chop up coarse
2 heads of butter lettuce, cleaned, dried, and shredded
2 avacados, sliced
One small jar of capers, rinsed, dried, and fried. I use a microwave and paper towels and then saute them in a little oil until they're crinkly. Add those to salad bowl last.
Thinly-cut: 4 multi-colored carrots, 2 stalks celery, 1 fennel bulb, 2 persian cucumbers, 1 green apple, one small jicama. —Any seasonal veggies will do. Just think of what goes nice with crab. My selection gives you an idea of the sweet, tender, bitter, alium, buttery combo you could come up with. I used capers because tomatos are out of season and I wanted a little ZING.
Use a mandoline, or a Cuisinart attachment set on "2," or a very fine knife hand.
A Minced handful of Italian parsley or cilantro.
Sharp French Vinaigrette
Toss your salad carefully and completely before you add the dressing--- crisp it up in the fridge until just before the guests sit down, then toss again with the vinaigrette:
1/2 c. tasty olive oil
1/2 c. wine vinegar
1 shallot, diced
2 T. mustard (Dijon, or Larrupin's)
2 diced garlic cloves
generous salt and pepper
2 or 3 anchovies, smushed up, or the equivalent in anchovy paste
Whisk that up and toss gently and thoroughly when it's time to serve.
Serve your drinks and crab salad with the chewiest hard crust sourdough you can find fresh that day.
Light a fire! Smoke'em if you got'em! Hot tea afterward in the dark.
We had such a nice night.
Photo Credits: Ian Cole and Charlie of Ocean2Table Sustainable Seafood.