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Monday, December 6, 2010

Crab Salad from Heaven

So, my mom is a pescetarian, which means she has banished all other forms of meat from her life, except for seafood, which she adores. Fish, shellfish, she loves it all. And my family is grateful for that, because she can do wonders with our friendly creatures of the sea. Particularly, her crab salad, which my sister and I beg for whenever we come home. (Another version of this is in her crab bisque, which is also amazing, but that'll come later.)

Really, the greatest part of this dip is that it's awfully simple. Just a few choice ingredients that compliment each other really well. I'd recommend specifically using red onion over most others; the sweetness compliments the crab (shallots or a Vidalia onion would work too). 

Something interesting about this recipe it that my mother sautes the vegetables before adding them to the crab. You just want to give the vegetables a little color, and bring out some of those natural sugars. 

Something awesome that all foodies should know about is ground mustard seeds. It's something used frequently in North Indian cuisine, but hasn't really made it into many recipes on the other side of the pond. Dijon mustard is also used, along with the usual suspects of hot sauce and mayo. The point is to use in moderation, more as binding agents rather than flavoring agents.

The real important part of this salad is since there are few ingredients, you need make sure they are good ingredients. Which is why we use lump crab meat, not claw or leg. My family lives in the Midwest, so of course we are followers of the religion Costco. They have these great big cans of lump crabmeat which is just enough to keep us happy for about two days. And here is where we appreciate mom's insane sense of anal precision: she will go through every bit of crab and take out all traces of shell. While this isn't absolutely necessary, it's nice to never have to worry about biting down hard on a bit of crab exoskeleton. 

When it's finally done, I'd recommend taking a bit of some really good bread (my go-to is an asiago baguette), rip off a hunk and scoop up a big bite of this stuff. And then rip off another hunk and repeat. And if you can stop after two, please tell me what your secret is because I have yet to muster up the will power.

Dr. Sethi's Famous Crab Salad

2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
2 cups jumbo lump crabmeat
1/3 cup mayo
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Couple shakes of hot sauce
3 tsp ground mustard
2 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Your favorite bread (optional)

Drop the olive oil into a large saute pan and turn onto medium high heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery and saute till soft and beginning to caramelize. Transfer veggies to a large glass bowl. Add mayo, hot sauce, mustard, ground mustard, salt and pepper and mix till just barely combined. Add crabmeat and cilantro and again mix till just barely combined (mixing too much at this stage will break up the crabmeat into invisible little pieces). Enjoy on its own or with a good hunk of that bread.  

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