Friday, August 7, 2009
My Venture into Seafood Salads
I live in Kansas. Beef country. Seafood lovers are few and far between. Despite that, I can't help but love seafood in all of its glorious forms. My mother dislikes seafood so she rarely cooked fish when I was growing up – except for the occasional fish stick on Fridays during Lent. Nowadays, I eat seafood every chance I get.
My love affair with seafood started many years ago when I visited Asia for the first time. I can honestly say I have never had fresher seafood. One time while in South Korea, I was invited to dinner with a group of businessmen. I was the guest of honor and was treated like a king for a night. They took me to a fancy, schmancy seafood restaurant that was all the rage in Seoul. Since the menu was all in Korean, I asked my hosts to order something for me. After much discussion, they decided on a dish. Word of advice: When you're in another country, never let a stranger order something for you. If you have a queasy stomach, I recommend that you read no further.
When the food arrived, the waiter placed a big bowl of soup in front of me and all of the businessmen oooohed and aaaaahed at the beauty of my dish. I looked down at the bowl and it was a brothy soup made with lots of veggies and noodles and was topped with a baby octopus. It was truly a sight to be seen except for one small detail. The baby octopus…was still alive. Upon seeing that, a whole range of thoughts and emotions came flooding into my head. I wanted to scream like a school girl and go running from the restaurant but I quickly dismissed that option. I considered the possibility that it was an oversight and the chef simply forgot to cook the little sucker. From the pleased looks on my hosts' faces, I gathered that the dish was supposed to have been served this way. For those of you who have ever had to call the waiter because you found a fly in your soup, try having a LIVE OCTOPUS in it! I could not return this disgusting but exquisitely prepared dish. It would have insulted all of my hosts and, obviously, I couldn't do that. That meant [gulp] I had to eat..the baby...octopus. Not only did I have to eat him but I had to eat him fast because the poor thing was getting irritated from sitting on top of hot soup and was constantly trying to escape so I had to keep flicking him back into my bowl. I felt like every eye in that restaurant was on me as I picked up my chopsticks. I looked up and the businessmen were smiling and nodding in encouragement. As my hand drew closer to the octopus, the little guy raised one of his tentacles and reached out to grab one of my chopsticks and I thought, "Oh, geez, we got a fighter." It took every fiber of my being but I ate the whole thing. So, when I say I like fresh seafood, I don't like it THAT fresh. I don't want to have to fence my seafood with a pair of chopsticks before eating it.
I shouldn't have told you that story. Now I'm too grossed out to eat that big bowl of crab salad sitting in my fridge. Anyway, the next time you can't get your kids to eat their veggies, give 'em a choice between broccoli and a live, baby octopus. They'll make the right choice. If you live on the coast and have access to fresh crab, by all means, use it instead of the imitation stuff. Just make sure the crab is not alive and kickin' before serving it to your guests. Enjoy – and happy fencing!
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3/4 cup red onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 1b. imitation crab, chopped
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise (light mayo works OK)
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish (sugar-free works great), drained of excess liquid
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 TBSP chopped fresh dill
1 tsp lemon juice
2 pinches of salt
1/8 tsp pepper
In a large bowl, combine the red onion, celery, imitation crab, and hard-boiled eggs.
In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients. Add the dressing to the bowl containing the crab mix and gently stir to combine. If the mixture looks a little dry, add some additional mayo. Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Cover and refrigerate for two hours before serving.
Serve on a bed of your favorite salad greens or make a sandwich using Greek pita, bolillo rolls, tortillas, or your favorite kind of bread. You can also serve this as an appetizer with your choice of snack crackers.
Posted by Cooking Ventures at 6:30 AM