Shellfish lends itself to signature items. Its sweet, mild flavors, satisfying texture and quality image provide a great launching-off point for your own creativity. Get inspired by this quartet of appetizing examples.
Indonesian Curry with Alaska King Crab
From: Chef Nathan Uy, Wild Ginger, Seattle. Yield: 4 servings.
4-5 Alaska King Crab legs
3 shallots, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/2” fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tsp. dried chili flakes
1 Thai chili, seeded and sliced
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 stalk lemon grass, bruised
3 cups coconut milk
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
as needed, leaf lettuce
as needed, coriander sprigs
as needed, lemon wedges, wheels or wide zest (using a lemon scorer)
To split crab legs: Chop crab legs into three 4” segments and use kitchen shears to cut along underside of the leg shell. If you have purchased pre-cooked crab legs, proceed to the curry recipe. If necessary, steam or boil crab prior to final cooking in the curry sauce.
For curry: In a food processor, blend the shallots, garlic, ginger and all of the dry spices to form a paste. In a medium bowl, mix the paste with lemon grass and coconut milk. In a large skillet or wok, bring the curry sauce to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium. Place the crab in the curry sauce and simmer, basting frequently, for 5 minutes or until crabmeat is thoroughly heated through. Add lemon juice to finish. Curry should be just a bit sour.
To plate: Garnish a large serving platter with a bed of green leaf lettuce and place coriander sprigs around the edge. Arrange crab pieces on the platter and garnish with additional coriander sprigs and lemon wedges, wheels or wide zest.
Creamy Deviled Crab & Egg Gratin
From: Chef Ouita Michael, Wallace Station, Midway, KY. Yield: 12 servings, 3 egg halves each.
18 large eggs
8 oz. lump crab meat
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup minced celery
1/4 cup minced green onions
1 Tbsp. minced fresh dill
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. minced parsley
1 small lemon, zested
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. Tabasco® brand pepper sauce
to taste, salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tsp. dried tarragon (or dill)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 quart milk
2 cups shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese
to taste, salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
Hard-cook, cool and peel eggs. Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Reserve whites; press yolks through a sieve.
In a bowl, combine and blend sieved yolks with crab, mayonnaise, celery, green onions, dill, mustard, parsley, lemon zest, paprika, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into egg whites; refrigerate until needed.
In a separate bowl blend breadcrumbs, melted butter and tarragon. Set aside.
For sauce: In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour until blended and smooth. Whisk in milk; bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened and cooked for one minute. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, salt and pepper, and nutmeg. Cover and keep warm.
In each 4” to 5” gratin baking dish, spread 1 Tbsp. cheese sauce. Place 3 egg halves in each dish, narrow ends pointing to the center. Top each of the egg dishes with about 1/4 cup sauce and 3 Tbsp. breadcrumbs. Bake at 350°F until hot and bubbly, about 15 minutes.
Pear Shrimp Salad with Cilantro Yogurt dressing
Yield: 12 servings.
3 cups (12 halves) Pacific Northwest Lite Canned Pear halves, drained, reserve juice
½ Tbsp. peeled and sliced ginger
1 tsp. minced garlic
3 lb. medium peeled and deveined shrimp
3 qt. arugula greens
1 ½ qt. can hearts of palm, drained, cut into ½ -inch pieces
6 large avocados, skinned, pitted, sliced
3 cups halved grape tomatoes
1 ½ cups Cilantro Yogurt Dressing (recipe follows)
¾ cup toasted almond slivers
Cilantro Yogurt Dressing (yields 1 cup):
1 cup Pacific Northwest Lite Canned Pear juice
1 ½ cups minced Pacific Northwest Lite Canned Pears
3 Tbsp. plain nonfat Greek-style yogurt
1 Tbsp. minced cilantro
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. lime zest
½ tsp. minced garlic
to taste, ground black pepper
to taste, kosher salt
Place 1½ cups of pear juice and ½ cup water into a stainless pot along with ginger slices and garlic; bring to a simmer. Add shrimp and simmer 1 minute until shrimp just starts to turn pink. Remove pot from heat and cool to room temperature. Cover. CCP: Refrigerate below 40°F until ready to use as directed.
To serve: For each serving, stack 1 cup greens on chilled luncheon plate and top with ½ cup hearts of palm, ½ avocado, sliced; ¼ cup tomato halves; 1 pear half, sliced; 4 oz. chilled, drained poached shrimp; 3 Tbsp. Cilantro Yogurt Dressing and 1 Tbsp. slivered almonds.
For Cilantro Yogurt Dressing: Heat 1 cup reserved pear juice in small stainless steel pan. Reduce juice by three-quarters to ¼ cup. Cool to room temperature.
In a stainless bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients including 1 cup minced pears along with reduced pear juice until well-mixed. Cover. CCP: Refrigerate below 40°F at least 2 hours before using as directed.
Alaska Crab Wontons
Yield: 8 servings.
Alaska Crab Cream Cheese Mixture:
1¼ lb. Alaska Crab Meat, flaked
1 lb. cream cheese
¼ cup green onion, sliced
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 egg whites
1 Tbsp. water
40 wonton wrappers
1 recipe crab cream cheese mixture
as needed, egg wash
3 Tbsp. green onions, green part only, chopped
1 cup sweet chili sauce, prepared
For crab cream cheese mixture: Mix all ingredients and stir until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate.
For egg wash: Combine ingredients and reserve.
For wontons: Place 2 tsp. crab cream cheese mixture in middle of each wonton wrapper. Lightly brush adjacent sides of wonton wrapper with egg wash. Fold each wonton wrapper into a triangle; tightly seal edges. Fold outer edges toward middle of triangle, using egg wash to seal. Place wontons on parchment-paper lined sheet pan dusted with cornstarch or flour, making sure wontons don’t touch each other. Cover and freeze until needed.
Per serving: Preheat deep fryer to 350˚ F. Gently place five frozen wontons in deep fryer and cook until golden brown. Drain. Plate and garnish with a pinch of green onions. Serve with 2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce.