Sunday, February 24, 2013

I've got CRABS! (Recipe: Crab & Shrimp Bisque - with BACON + Seafood Louie Salad)

I love living in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I especially love it when Dungeness Crab Season is upon us!

Dungeness Crab Season was particularly fun - back when I lived on a boat in South San Francisco.   I have many fond memories of having Crab Boils on the dock - which, naturally, resulted in full-blown dock parties! (Nevermind that we were huddled around the Cajun-Cooker, in gale-force-winds, with our teeth chattering!) (Yes, they are STILL fond memories!)  

We are talking about Mega-Fresh Crab.  There were some commercial fishing boats at the marina next door, and we'd buy our crabs FRESH off the boat!

Image Credit: Instructables
In fact, here is a link for cleaning/cooking dungeness crab

So yeah, I LOVE dungeness crab!  Don't love the messy/stinky prep-work- however - which is why this is kind of a rare treat around here.  Although...  If you ever have an opportunity to dine at Joe's Crab Shack (which we did - ironically - in land-locked Arizona!), be sure to steal the plastic crab-discombobulating tool.  It's a life-saver!

Yes, I stole it.  And I feel no shame! 

Side-Story:  Maryland Blue Crabs.  I have relatives in Maryland and while I was visiting one year, I bought a huge bag of fresh-cooked, still-steaming, Maryland Blue Crabs and brought 'em "home" to my cousin's.  They set-up the backyard picnic table with sheets of newspaper and several rolls of paper towels (and assorted hammers and forky/prier-outer-tools), and we had a delightful crab feast one evening.  But the thing about Blue Crabs is: They're the same amount of messy/stinky work - per-crab.  But Blue Crabs are much smaller - so it ends up feeling like 3x the work for one-third the quantity of meat!

Plus (IMHO) Maryland Blue Crabs just aren't as sweet or tasty as Dungeness (Sorry, Maryland!)

Yeah, so last week at the grocery store, cooked Dungeness Crab was on sale for $4.99/lb (Great Price), so I bought one!  I also picked-up a pound of salad shrimp and a loaf of sourdough bread...  Ohhhh there's gonna be a San Francisco Feast!!!

Originally, I was thinking I'd make a vat o' New England Clam Chowdah - but decided crab bisque would be better.  I couldn't find any recipes that exactly matched the ingredients I had on-hand, so I invented my very own recipe (Ooooooh!!!). 

Here goes!

QT's Crab & Shrimp Bisque - with BACON
Yield: Appx 6 generous servings

  • 4-6 slices of thick-cut bacon
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 3-4 stalks of celery
  • 6-7 leaves of fresh chopped basil
  • 1-2 TBS unsalted butter and/or 1-2 TBS olive oil (if needed)
  • 3 cans (@ 6 oz which nets 4 oz drained) crabmeat*
  • 1 can diced tomatoes**
  • 1 @ 8 oz bottle of clam juice
  • 2 cups organic vegetable juice (like V8 - only without the high fructose corn syrup!)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 cups half-and-half
  • Old Bay Seasoning (← mandatory ingredient!)
  • Salt and (red) pepper, to taste...
  • 1-2 tbs flour + water (optional - to thicken the soup)
  • Handful of fresh crab and/or salad-shrimp (optional)
  1. Fry up the bacon 'til crispy.  Remove bacon and tamp it with a paper towel.  Keep the bacon grease in the pan.
    Depending upon how fatty your bacon is, you might need to drain some off.  Spreckles is VERY lean, so I actually had to add olive oil and butter toward the end of cooking!
  2. Finely chop your onion, garlic, celery and basil.  Toss it in your big pot with the bacon grease.  Add butter or olive (if needed).
  3. Saute on medium-low 'til the veggies are limp and translucent.
  4. Add clam juice, canned tomatoes, crabmeat and vegetable juice.  Bring to a light boil, then reduce heat.
  5. Add sour cream and half and half.  Stir until heated through.
  6. Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes (do not boil - you don't want to scorch the cream).
  7. Grab your immersion blender and blend the soup 'til nearly smooth (it'll still be a wee bit lumpy - and that's okay).
  8. Finely chop your bacon and toss it into the soup.  Add more fresh lumpy crabmeat and/or salad shrimp.
  9. Give it a sample and add salt/pepper and Old Bay Seasoning to taste.
  10. If it's too runny for your tastes, mix a TBS of flour with water and stir it into the soup, to thicken.
*Yes, I know the bisque base has (GASP) canned crab - but I wanted to use the majority of the fresh crab in our salads.  I did dump a generous handful of fresh crab in, at the end

**I would have preferred to use a quart of frozen-squozen tomatoes - but I ran out and had to use canned instead!

Image Credit: Old Bay
Love-Love-Love this stuff!

Okay, I'm gonna skip the whole "Cleaning/Prepping the Crab" tutorial (Messy work - and I didn't want Crab Gooze on my camera, k?!).  Go back to the Instructables Site if you need help!

Bisque on the stove...
This was before the immersion blender whirred all the chunky bits into oblivion!

Bisque in the bowl
"Get into mah belleh!"

Along with the bisque, I figured we needed a bona fide San Francisco Treat for dinner, so I also whipped together a most delightful Crab + Shrimp Louie.  Nothing particularly "original" here, but I figured I'd list the ingredients just the same...

Ohhh yeah!  Good stuff!

Crab & Shrimp Louie
Yields: 2 very generous salads (I couldn't finish mine!)

  • Meat from one freshly cooked/cleaned Dungeness Crab (minus the handful that ended up in the bisque)
  • 1 lb salad shrimp.  These are the teeny, previously-frozen, de-veined/de-tailed shrimps.  Not the big finger-sized prawns. (Again, this is minus the handful that ended up in the bisque) (and you could probably get away with buying only half-a-pound for 2 salads - to be honest!)
  • 1 bag of salad greens (Ohhhh, such a CHEATER!  But I supplemented with fresh red lettuce greens and spinach from my garden, k?!)
  • Couple of smallish, sweet salad tomatoes (I used Campari tomatoes - which are actually 'pretty okay' for store-bought!)
  • Half of a smallish red onion, sliced into thin rings
  • Half of a thinly sliced cucumber
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • Tiny can of sliced black olives (I only used about half - on two salads)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 lemon
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Thousand Island Dressing
  • Croutons (optional)
  1. Rinse your salad greens and pile 'em up on a plate.
  2. Arrange your other veggies (eggs, lemon) around the perimeter of the plate
  3. Rinse (and dry) your shrimp and crabmeat.  Pile 'em up on top of the lettuce and sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning.
  4. Serve with Thousand Island Dressing and warm sourdough bread with butter.

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