Catch of the Day, South Of Lopez Island

Catch of the Day Just Off South Lopez

We had 10 in the pot, 7 keepers. Notice the horse clams used as bait? This was a first for me. Usually use chicken backs and the remains from cleaned and filleted salmon.

There is absolutely nothing like catching your own food, especially a critter so intense, so lively, as a crab. They do look right at you…..I don’t know what he sees, but he tracks. This type of experience and all the thoughtfulness that goes with it is why I love food so much……praise for the glorious crab! Thanks for your life……I understand how difficult it is for some folks to take critters for food like this……I feel more right myself eating this food than something wrapped in plastic from a store. There is an emotional aspect that can be felt deeply. Besides, who says carrots don’t scream bloody murder when we pull them out of the ground by their hair?

Something else special about this catch is who I share it with. We have a friend who helps out in the garden, a granny who can pack away more crab than anyone I have ever seen. Another friend who needs some food support so why not crab?

What’s for dinner?

How about crab tacos? Soft warm white corn tortillas, the small ones, and some shredded cabbage with rice wine vinegar and chipotle. Heat the crab gently with just a bit of garlic. Ok, mayonnaise if you must. But not too much.

Or, BLTs with fresh crab on top? Toast the bread really well. And this time use all the mayo you can handle.

I do love a good crab cake. An egg yolk, a couple of pinches of bread crumbs, one green onion minced, 1/4 of a sweet red bell pepper, minced, 2 dashes of lemon juice. Dill, yes, Cayenne, ok, sea salt. One crab, shelled, meat broken up. Dry the crab, no extra moisture! You are on the way to perfection. You can saute these in butter or, bake them at 425′ for 12 minutes on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Turn them over at 6 minutes, check after 4 more. Golden brown.  Makes 4 small or 16 mini size. Serve with more citrus flavors or a very garlicky aoli.

Part Three of Our Story

Every fold of fabric, each bit of sun reflected off glass and sterling, each step in preparing the sauces, reveling in the crispness of green beans blanched in boiling, salted water for exactly three minutes and twenty  seconds, the toasts and tears accompanied by champagne and the room temperature St. Andre, the wafting of sweet sesame oil and seared fish flesh, a peculiar quiet moment as each course was laid down in front of each guest, all, all of it, leading to this moment, deep in the garden, our senses heightened by darkness, sharpened by hunger, kindled in joy that our work is now done and we are not expected back in the kitchen any time soon.

This wasn’t my idea. I’m not sure what to expect except for something wondrous to be revealed when your basket is opened. When you came to work for me weeks ago I knew we shared this passion for simple flavors matched in wild ways as I watched you transform salad with a spring palate of shrimp, avocado, mango, curry and heirloom bachelor buttons.  Several times since then our eyes have met variously; across a freshly filleted king salmon, you began slicing thin slivers as I hunted down wasabe and fish roe; or, you peeled and sliced ripe Comice pear when the aged Asiago cheese arrived in perfect condition.  Once you came and stood next to me as I cooked sugar down in my copper pot for crème caramel, the white mound mysteriously collapsing into liquid at two hundred and thirty degrees. Not speaking, your eyes never moved from the syrup as it turned from pale gold to hazelnut, then pure auburn as I took it off the fire. We both smiled as you returned to your fillets.

Yes, I don’t know what to expect. I haven’t confused the thrill of thinking, talking, cooking, breathing food with a man for sexual attraction in years. But there were times, in the beginning of my career, when the heat of the kitchen, the synchronized, tango-like work on the line, watching deft fingers slice, fan and arrange, being hand fed some small bit of magic, a freshly made garlic and parmesan gnocchi wrapped in a basil leaf, all the while being intently watched, by dark unblinking eyes, for my reaction, could and did leave me a soft puddle of sensory reception overload, ready for entering.

One summer, working the appetizer line, designing plates so charged, if one lingered, enjoying the color, texture, arrangement, it couldn’t be missed; the undulation and fold of thin sliced flesh for carpaccio, the moist triangle of caviar atop thin slivers of lox, flecked with coarse grated egg, the monochromation of strawberry and rhubarb sauces napping a soft mound of cour la creme.


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