Those of you who have been hanging out at A Reader's Respite for a while might remember this review of Erica Bauermeister's The School of Essential Ingredients that we posted some months back.
In a nutshell? We LOVED this book. Everyone LOVED this book. You can't not LOVE this book if you appreciate gorgeous writing.
Now Erica and A Reader's Respite both call the great Pacific Northwest home and that means we consume a lot of seafood. The difference between us is that Erica knows how to prepare culinary works of art, while A Reader's Respite knows microwavable popcorn.
So who would you rather get a sumptious seafood recipe from? Yeah, that's what we thought. Oh, and how about a giveaway of The School of Essential Ingredients while we're at it....
Interested? We thought you might be. Read what Erica has to say.....
Some fifteen years ago now, my husband and I bought a slim bit of land on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. The property rose up some 250 feet, but technically it was waterfront and we bushwhacked our way through poison oak and clambered down ladders and ropes and stood, triumphant, on our beach. The view down the bay was endless; the seals poked their heads up from the water and looked at us with soft brown eyes. We fell in love.
Our beach is rocky and when the tide goes out it leaves behind a vast expanse of oysters. For some of our friends, the bounty is overwhelming and they sit on the rocks in a kind of stunned bliss for hours, oyster knife in hand. Alas, neither my husband nor I like oysters. We’ve tried. We’ve barbequed and baked, lemoned and hot sauced and stewed. Nothing doing.
We do, however, love crab, and there are crabs down in the deep, cold water just off our beach. So every summer we drag our canoe over the utterly offended mollusks and set out in search of crustaceans.
As a cautionary note, I’d like to say that crabbing by canoe is a highly questionable proposition. Still, my husband likes adventure, so we bought a lovely orange canoe that looked just like something you would put four little Girl Scouts in at summer camp. It lasted a few years until a big winter storm caved its side in while it lay tied up on the beach.
Now we have a new canoe - Tank Girl. Tank Girl is big and strong and so heavy that I truly do not understand how she floats. When the tide is out and the beach looks like a battleground littered with sharp-edged grenades... well, let’s just say you have to like crabs to drag Tank Girl across all that to the water.
Which we do. And wanting to learn how to prepare our catch well led me to take a cooking class, where we were taught how to kill them with our bare hands. Which led to The School of Essential Ingredients.
People have asked for the recipe for roasted crab from Claire’s chapter in the book, so here ‘tis. And Claire and Helen want you to know that if you can only find already cooked crabs (or you don’t relish the idea of killing them), you can also use this as a truly decadent dipping sauce.
2 live crabs
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup onion, chopped
2 T ginger, minced
2 T garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
Lay live crab belly side down and hold from the rear with one hand (avoiding the big claws!). With the other hand, grip the edge of the back shell with your fingers. Pull up sharply to remove the shell, then cut the crab into two halves with a large knife. Wash the body cavity, removing lungs and guts. With large knife, cut between each of the legs and crack the shells with the side of the knife, to allow openings for the roasting sauce to enter. (for more extended description, you can go to pages 46-47 of The School of Essential Ingredients).
Melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add ginger, garlic, salt, & red pepper flakes and saute about a minute until garlic becomes translucent but not browned.
Put crabs in a roasting pan & coat well with sauce. Roast for 15-20 minutes in 375 degree oven. Stir 2-3 times.
Warm lemon juice & white wine. Add to crab before serving.
Supply your guests with many, many napkins, baskets of crunchy french bread and a fresh green salad. Utensils for getting the meat from the shells are handy as well....
Now, for the giveaway! If you'd like to win a copy of The School of Essential Ingredients (and if that doesn't get you in the mood for some serious cooking, we don't know what will!), leave us a comment telling us the best meal you ever ate.
That's it. Easy peasy, right?
Contest will remain open until June 3rd at which time a completely random winner will be drawn and announced right here so be sure to check back to see if you won! Unfortunately we have to limit this one to U.S. and Canadian entrants only, please. (A Reader's Respite will make up for that soon, I promise!)