One of the many reasons I fell in love with my husband is the love and devotion he bestows upon his two beautiful daughters. Last weekend, we bid farewell to the oldest as she embarks on the biggest adventure of her life to date - college.
The tear filled good-byes got me thinking about father-daughter rituals, namely the ones I shared with my father. We didn’t have many: late-night television (Benny Hill, Masterpiece Theatre, and Saturday Night Live), an annual viewing of The Beatles animated movie Yellow Submarine while snacking on homemade salt and vinegar French fries, and, in my adulthood- a love of fine Scotch. But my absolute favorite ritual - the one that tops them all - CRAB!
We’d pick up a couple fresh Dungeness crabs from the corner fish market, some good European butter, yesterday’s newspaper, and a 40 of Rainier beer from the gas station. I could not wait to get home and dive into our bounty, but my father never seemed to be in a hurry, leisurely driving Highway 101, scanning the coastline for god knows what. Once home, thick segments of newspaper were laid on the kitchen table along with old steel nutcrackers, an empty bowl for shells, a few kitchen towels to mop up any mess, and the shining glory - two whole crabs. Dad would swig straight from the oversized beer bottle while I tore into my first claw of sweet, clean, delicate crab flesh dredged in melted butter. As a whole, my dad and I didn’t spend a lot of time together while I was growing up, but the moments we did share were pretty spectacular.
Eating a whole crab on a newspaper adorned table is still a favorite, although I generally opt for sparkling wine over a 40.
For a more sophisticated dinner gathering, I’ve created a rich, crisp, and bright crab salad with avocado. If you buy picked crab, this will come together in less than 30 minutes.
Dungeness Crab Salad
8 oz Fresh Dungeness Crab, picked and cleaned
¼ cup Pink Lady Apple (or Granny Smith, Braeburn, or Honey Crisp), ¼” dice
¼ cup Radish, julienned
Zest of one Lemon
1 Tbsp Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Pernod (or anise flavored liquor)
3 tsp Lemon Juice, divided, plus more to taste
1 large Hass Avocado, ½” dice
Fresh Chives, chopped
In a bowl, combine crab, apple, radish, lemon zest, mayonnaise, Pernod, and 1 ½ tsp lemon juice, gently mix until incorporated, season with salt and pepper to taste, and chill. Prior to serving, add a touch more lemon juice to brighten all the flavors.
When you are ready to serve, dice avocado, gently mix in remaining 1 ½ tsp lemon juice, and divide between 4 plates (I used a large ring mold for a more formal presentation. For an organic presentation, scatter avocado loosely around the plate). Place equal an amount of crab salad atop avocado, garnish with fresh chives, and serve immediately.