DUNGENESS CRAB LOUIS SALAD
by Romney Steele
A West Coast invention, Crab Louis arrived on the restaurant scene after the turn of the 20th century and became popular again in the 1950s when we started to serve it. Make it on one of those crisp but sunny California winter days when the Dungeness season is on. Pick up two freshly cooked crabs (you'll need at least 2 cups lump meat) and ask the fishmonger to crack them for you.
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 1 tablespoon minced green pepper
• 1 tablespoon minced green onion or chives
• 1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish, or 1/4 teaspoon hot mustard
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons heavy cream
• Chile sauce
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, fresh tarragon, or a mix
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated, rinsed, and thoroughly dried
• 2 heaping cups fresh crabmeat, preferably Dungeness (or a mix of crab and bay shrimp)
• 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into large dice
• 4 radishes, thinly sliced
• 2 eggs, hard-cooked, peeled, and quartered
• 1 lemon, cut into wedges
• Fresh parsley or chopped chives, for garnish
To make the dressing, mix the mayonnaise, green pepper, onion, and horseradish in a bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice and cream. Add a dash of chile sauce (or to taste), stir in the parsley, and season with salt and black pepper. To thin, stir in 2 teaspoons water.
To make the salad, arrange the larger outer leaves of the lettuce on 4 chilled plates so that they create loose bowl shapes to hold the chopped salad. Thinly slice the inner leaves and arrange in mounds at the centers.
Lightly dress the crabmeat with a spoonful or two of the dressing, just enough to moisten, and season with salt and pepper. Spoon heaping rounds of crab on the lettuce mounds. Divide the avocado and radishes among the salads, scattering them in a pretty fashion, and tuck in the egg quarters. Drizzle the salads with the remaining dressing and garnish with lemon wedges and just a pinch of parsley to finish.