Saturday, February 9, 2008

CSA week ten - stone crab slaw

At the Slow Food stone crab picnic two weeks ago two things occurred to me. First, it was a bit of a shame to waste that crab juice that got all over everything as it was actually rather tasty and second, I wished I had some vegetables to dip in the sauce that the Judy the Stone Crab Lady made for the crabs as it was pretty good on its own. So when I returned to the Coral Gables farmer's market this week and bought some crabs I figured there was room to try something there.

So I cracked my crab carefully over a bowl to collect the run off. I ended up with maybe a quarter cup from a pound of crab. I also set aside the meat from a couple claws for incorporating with the dish. I neglected to document this but click on this photo from two weeks ago and you'll see the juice all over the inside of that bag.

For the vegetables I looked at what I had left from CSA week ten. Most of cabbage, half of the red pepper and still plenty of scallions. There are different philosophies on preparing cabbage for use in slaw. I think the folks from Whisk who made slaw for the picnic just chopped it up and tossed it in, but others soak it or salt it first. Personally, I'm in the salting camp. Like the deep frying of the green beans in the stir fry I posted about a few days ago, it pulls some of the water out of the vegetables so when you introduce a tastier source of moisture it'll stick. I sliced up 3/4 lb. of cabbage (about half the head from my share. Yours may vary.), tossed it with a tablespoon of kosher salt and let it drain in a colander for a couple hours and then rinsed and salad-spun it. This leaves the cabbage pre-seasoned and crisp, but not stiff like fresh cabbage can be. It's a congenial texture for mixing with a dressing and lifting on a fork which is a good secondary benefit.

In addition I chopped up a couple scallions and a quarter of the red pepper. It's possible I should have taken pictures of all this, but it didn't occur to me at the time. It's unlikely to be so tricky that anyone needs visual aids, anyway. [Addendum: the next day I added a handful of halved grape tomatoes and a quarter cup of chopped sweet onion along with all the crab I had left and, apparently, about half a pound of tiny bits of crab-shell. Other than the shell, all good additions.]

Normally for a cole slaw dressing, at least of one sort, you'd mix mayonnaise with some vinegar, salt, pepper and some flavoring. The Crab Lady's dipping sauce follows the same recipe with the flavoring in this case being horseradish. It's, luckily, a bit too thick so when I thinned it out with the crab juice the texture was just right.

The end result has a nice mix of textures with the soft pieces of crab and the chewiness of the cabbage. The flavor benefits from creamy mildly bitter sauce and the sweetness of the crab balancing the saltiness of the cabbage.

It's very much a side dish, though so I have to decide what to serve it with tomorrow (cole slaw improves in the refrigerator overnight). It might work well with beer battered fish.

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