Crab season is here! I had my first last week and it was sweet and delicious. It is less expensive and fresher to crack and clean your crab at home, however, if you don’t mind paying a bit extra, or you are in a rush for time, it can be nice to have it done at the market. I don’t mind doing it myself and have included directions below.
I am excited to incorporate another grain into this menu that have never made at home before, quinoa. As is my custom with new things, I googled quinoa and was impressed by what I found and sorry I haven’t made it before. The Incas, who believed Quinoa to be sacred, called it “chisaya mama” or “mother of all grains”. It is increasingly popular for its high protein content, dietary fiber and minerals; phosphorous, magnesium and iron. It’s also a source of calcium, so good for vegans and those lactose intolerant. As a bonus it is gluten free. For all those reasons, quinoa is considered a superfood. (www.Wikipedia.com) I used Rainbow quinoa but any kind will work just fine.
One note of warning, this recipe calls for an empty can for forming the tower. Mine got recycled tonight so I had to open a new can. Make sure your can has rims on both the top and bottom so the can opener has something to grab on to. My salad tonight was only going to have only mixed greens and arugula but ended up with a few garbanzo beans and mandarin oranges since I had to open both cans to make my tower.
FRESH CRAB QUINOA TOWER
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbsn olive oil
1 large ripe tomato, sliced into rounds
1-2 ripe but firm avocados, halved lengthwise, seeded, peeled and sliced horizontally
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1Tbsn parsley, minced
1-2 fresh, cooked crab, cracked, cleaned with meat removed (reserve claws) *Instructions follow
8 ounces mixed greens
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and sliced
Lemon vinaigrette (½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 2 T red wine vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper)
- Rinse quinoa under cold water until the water runs clear. In a 1 quart saucepan, saute quinoa in olive oil until slightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover until liquid is absorbed and germ has spiraled out, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
- Prepare vinaigrette or use your favorite. Put ingredients in a small container and whisk together or shake until combined.
- Remove crabmeat from shells, retaining claws for garnish, and pull meat apart leaving large chunks. 1 crab will serve 4 with moderate proportions/2 crabs generously. Combine in a bowl with 3 or 4 Tablespoons vinaigrette, scallions and parsley.
- Remove both ends from an empty food can (regular soup size) to make a hollow cylinder. Wash and dry can thoroughly. Place can in the center of one of the serving plates. Spoon in one fourth of the couscous mixture and gently press down with the back of the spoon.
- Top couscous with one slice of tomato, then a quarter of the avocado, pressing with spoon after each layer. We love avocado so would use ½ half for each serving, however you can adjust the quantity to your liking. Top the avocado with a quarter of the crab mixture. While pressing on the crab mixture with back of spoon, slowly lift off can. Repeat to make three more plates. Top with a crab claw.
- Toss greens and fennel with remaining vinaigrette and serve with crab towers.
CRACKING AND CLEANING A CRAB
- Place the cooked crab on a cutting board on its back. Hold the body in one hand and gently twist each of the legs and claws off with the other. Set them aside
- Remove the tail flap and both flaps near the eyes. Discard.
- Pull off the back shell and remove the ‘dead man’, the spongy gills and the orange ‘skin’.
- Rinse the body then cut in quarters.
- Using a metal or wooden meat tenderizer, give several hammers to each leg, enough to crack the shell and allow access to the meat.