We’re posting today an exciting new recipe that I developed for a dinner I cooked in October, at The James Beard House in NYC! The dinner was an East-West oyster shuck-off, but Ken Norris of Portand, Oregon and I created some non-oyster courses, also using East or West Coast seafood.
My favorite contribution was this crab salad, the crab meticulously picked out of fresh-cooked crabs. It was a BIG JOB for 80 diners…but for your family it should be much more manageable. And do go to the trouble of creating the House-Made Crab House Spice…it has a delicious kick!
makes 6 first-course servings
Cooking the live crabs:
6 live, large Maryland blue crabs
For the crab mixture:
the picked-over meat of the 6 live, large Maryland blue crabs
1/2 cup refrigerated backfin crab meat
a few drops Italian colatura (see NOTE below)
1 teaspoon Crab House Spice Mixture (see below for recipe)
1/4 teaspoon African Fatali Chile Extraction, Henry Family Farm (see NOTE below)
3 tablespoons chopped corn nuts (each nut in 3 pieces) (see NOTE below)
1/4 cup very finely minced green bell pepper
1/3 cup frilly ends of frisée, dipped briefly in red-wine vinegar
For the dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon African Fatali Chile Extraction, Henry Family Farm
scant 1 tablespoon sugar
scant 1 tablespoon Crab House Spice Mixture (see below for recipe)
For assembly and garnish:
vegetable oil for lightly greasing interior of rings
1/2 tablespoon Crab House Spice Mixture (see below for recipe)
1 tablespoon very finely minced red bell pepper
18 corn nuts
squeeze tubes of extra dressing
1. Cooking the live crabs: Bring a huge pot of water to a boil. Salt well. With the water at a furious boil, spill in the live crabs. Cover immediately, and cook until crabs are just done (about 12 minutes). If possible, hold whole cooked crabs in refrigerator three days before preparing dish. On the day of the dish, pick the meat out of the 24 crabs. Discard shells. You should have about 6 cups of fresh crab meat.
2. When ready to prepare dish, make the crab mixture: mix the picked-over crab meat (about 6 cups) with the backfin crab meat. Add a few drops of colatura to taste, along with the tablespoon of Crab House Spice Mixture, the Fatali chile extraction, the chopped corn nuts, and the minced green bell pepper. Toss gently throughout, to keep the crab pieces whole. Set aside.
3. Prepare the dressing: in a bowl, vigorously mix together the mayonnaise and buttermilk. Blend in the Fatali chile extraction, the sugar, and the 3 tablespoons of Crab House Spice Mixture. Set aside.
4. Assemble and garnish: Lightly oil the interiors of 24 rings (3″ wide and 2″ tall). If it’s easier, work with fewer rings and re-use them. Place the rings on 24 dinner plates. Add frisée to crab mixture, toss gently, and fill each ring with about 1/3 cup of the crab mixture. Remove rings carefully to create 24 mounds. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of dressing over each of the crab mounds. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of Crab House Spice Mixture over all, dividing evenly. Divide the minced red bell pepper among the tops of the 24 mounds. Top each mound with 3 whole corn nuts. With a squeeze tube, create three small rounds of extra dressing around the mounds, at 12 o’clock, 12:20, and 12:40 on the plates near the rims. Serve immediately.
CRAB HOUSE SPICE MIXTURE
1 teaspoon aleppo pepper flakes (or any dried red chile flakes)
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1 tablespoon celery salt
4 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
4 allspice berries
8 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
1. Place all ingredients in spice grinder, and grind until a fairly fine powder is formed (about a minute).
ITALIAN COLATURA: An amazing fish sauce from the Amalfi Coast. You can read all about it in the upcoming issue of the ROSENGARTEN REPORT this December…or you can mail-order a bottle right now from Gustiamo.com (You may use Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce as a substitute).
AFRICAN FATALI CHILE EXTRACTION: This great hot sauce from Henry Family Farm in Virginia is part of our regular product line. You can get a bottle by visiting our shop! (You could also substitute a fairly hot, habanero-based sauce.)
CORN NUTS: Just so you know, there are over 100 corn nuts in each 48-gram bag.