Most of you are probably already knee-deep in the holiday season, what with gifts to buy, meals to make, cocktails to clink, and cards to post. But for me another season is occupying my thoughts — Dungeness crab season in Northern California has been on for a few weeks. Of course, when I lived in Half Moon Bay I used to get the most fantastically fresh crab right off the boat in the harbor. Cooked within an hour, still frisky and kicking as I dropped them in the pot, the Dungeness crabs were revelatory; sweet, tender, briny, delicious.
In LA it’s not quite so easy to get that level of freshness, but I picked up a few from my local fishmonger (who swore they were from NorCal) and cooked ’em up simply — just boiled with some melted butter and lemon. A yummy and delicious meal with a salad and some crusty bread. Surprisingly (considering my unstoppable appetite for crustaceans) I had some leftover crab, which I broke down that night with the idea of making crab salad the next day. I went to sleep that night, satiated and dreaming of scuttling along the ocean floor, sideways.
In the morning I realized that I also had in the fridge a one-pound can of pretty damn good blue crab meat, with which I was planning to make Baltimore crab cakes. Between the two kinds of crab, I had a lovely lunch in my immediate future.
I put into a mixing bowl about a half-pound of the cooked and picked Dungeness crab from the previous night, which looked to be about a cup and a quarter of crab meat. I added an equal amount of blue crab and ran my (very clean) hands through the crab, picking out any bits of shell and pulling apart and loosening the larger chunks. I added to the crab a quarter cup of finely minced celery, the juice of one small lemon, two tablespoons of minced green onion, five tarragon leaves finely minced, a teaspoon of olive oil, a heaping teaspoon of French’s yellow mustard, a half-teaspoon of minced dill, a quarter-teaspoon of celery salt, a quarter-teaspoon of ground white pepper, a pinch of sugar, and about a third of a cup of mayonnaise. I mixed it all very well with a large spoon and tasted it. I added another tablespoon or so of mayo, cracked into it a little black pepper, threw in a final pinch of salt, and combined it well. I chilled the salad for thirty minutes.
To make the sandwich I split open a crisp, fresh baguette and spread the inside with a little softened butter. I broiled the baguette until it was warm and the edges were crisp. I laid a little baby spinach on one side and some thinly sliced tomato on the other. I heaped the delicious crab salad inside the baguette and cut it in half. With my sandwich I drank an ice-cold Pilsner Urquell.
It was delicious. And all was well with the world. Peace on Earth.