Monday, December 5, 2011

What I Want to Eat on My Birthday!

As you may or may not know, my birthday was last Friday; and, I made a menu that I would enjoy:

I was looking for a light first course featuring crab, and stumbled upon "Crab Louie Salad," also known as "Crab Louis Salad," and "King of Salads." I had never heard of it before! Apparently, this is a famous west coast specialty, and a favorite of James Beard, that began popping up on restaurant menus somewhere between 1904 and 1917. In my research, I found that there are many versions of this salad, but the star ingredient is Dungeness crab (a delicacy of the region). The remaining ingredients vary widely, but consist of some variation of the following:
  • Lump crabmeat,
  • Crab Louie, Thousand Island, or Russian dressing,
  • Romaine, Iceberg, Boston, or Endive lettuce,
  • Fresh tomatoes,
  • Boiled eggs,
  • Cucumber,
  • Asparagus,
  • Olives, and
  • Avocado.
I chose Wolfgang Puck's version because it looks fantastic! I thought it was the perfect starter for a heavy main course. It tasted fresh and really stimulated my palate! This would also be perfect on a hot summer day!

Crab Louie

Serves 4


8 oz. jumbo lump crab
3 tablespoons Crab Louie dressing (recipe below), Thousand Island or Russian dressing
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1 large (may need more depending on size) vine-ripened tomato, diced and well drained
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
16 red endive leaves (I couldn't find red, so I had to use white.)
1 whole avocado, diced
1 ring mold (click here for more information)


Pick through the crab meat thoroughly and remove any shells. Place the crab in a small bowl, and fold in the dressing and chives. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the tomato, onion, olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar, and parsley to make a nice relish.

To plate:
Set the ring mold (or in my case, a can) in the center of the plate. Place 4 endive leaves around the mold, creating a flower pattern. Spoon 1/4 of the crab mixture in the mold, pressing down with the spoon. Next, spoon in 1/4 of the avocado, pressing down. Finally, spoon in 1/4 of the tomato relish, pressing down. Now, carefully lift the mold and smile! Repeat with the remaining 3 plates.

Crab Louie Dressing

1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chili sauce
3 tablespoons minced green bell pepper (or sweet relish, if you prefer)
3 tablespoons minced green onions with some green tops
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use.

You may also like Crab and Avocado Salad.

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