meta name="p:domain_verify" content="8b08da541f8a920e6 Marie Z Johnston: Live (Crab) from Monterey

Monday, February 7, 2011

Live (Crab) from Monterey

Returning to the Monterey Peninsula is a mixed blessing.  Usually, I'm going back for some sort of work that involves lots of heavy lifting at our family house in Carmel by the Sea, the charming town where I was born and raised.  When traveling there during an 'R' month, I'm happily leaving oysters behind in Paris to find live Dungeness crab straight off the day boat in Moss Landing.

Fresh crab on a bed of paparadelle pasta & zucchini ribbons with yellow curry sauce
Other that homemade mayonnaise, there is nothing that compliments the delicate flavor of crab meat like a yellow coconut curry.  I'd first tasted this amazing combo some years back when dining at the now defunct Bouchée in Carmel  - Walter Manzke was chef, his wife Marge was dessert queen and they were backed up by Chris Gore and his wife Mary Jo (my son Adam worked with this great team as well)  It's become a staple sauce in my kitchen and I pair it with crab at every opportunity.

Sully's Live Crab is a boat on Dock A in the Moss Landing harbor
We set off for Sully's Live Crab, a boat on Dock A in the Moss landing harbor, which is only a 20 minute drive from Carmel - but the  short trip drops you into another world altogether. 

Greeted by seagulls and the ocean breeze, we found our way to Sully's. Carol, who owns and runs the operation was being assisted by her friend 'Fisherman Donny' (who has 3 large trawlers of his own) that day. Carol also offers day trips for fishing enthusiasts on her party boat (not the crab boat) they are a cheerful bunch, so it's sure to be a fun time.

Sully's sells 2lb crabs for $10 each or 3 for $25.00 - we got 3.  Donny put them in a paper bag and we drove home while the guys duked it out for space in the back seat.  In hindsight, I have great respect for Donny who put his hands into the cauldron of very alive crabs yet still seems to have all ten fingers intact.

Lots of live crab in a cage
Once home, the crab were steamed for about 1/2 an hour, cleaned and broken apart (for the feint of heart, you can buy your crab already cooked & cleaned from most fish stores offering it 'live' during the season)

Weighting the lid is a good idea while steaming

While the crab was being cleaned I put a pot of salted water on to boil for pasta (1/2 lb of the widest you can find),  ribbon-ed a 2 zucchini and whipped up the yellow coconut curry sauce - which is much easier than it sounds (see below).

That's coconut milk melting in the pan

Add the zucchini ribbons to the pasta water (with the pasta cooking in it) about one minute before the pasta is ready - drain it all at once and toss lightly with some olive oil.

These zucchini cook to a perfect al dente in a minute or less
Pour the curry sauce over the pasta and zucchini, stir it a little, then...

Just stir the sauce a bit with your serving fork
arrange the crab over the top.  Garnish with scallions.  Fresh basil would have been a really nice addition, but there wasn't any available - cilantro would work well too.

Ready to serve
And of course, there was mayonnaise... which is, like I said before, a natural with fresh crab.  Drink a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a real cold lager with this meal.

Homemade mayonnaise with extra lemon

Yellow Coconut Curry Sauce


2 Tbl Butter
4 Tbl yellow curry powder (find one you like, they are all a little different)
1 12 oz can coconut milk


Melt the butter in a large skillet
Add the yellow curry powder and cook it until it is smooth and smells good
Add the contents of the can of coconut milk, stir well
That's it... 

This sauce is good on all sorts of things... try variations using scallops, shrimp or chicken.

A bientot,
Marie Z


Anonymous said...

It was outrageously yummy!!!

Gail Casale said...

Beautiful post! I'm going to try that curry sauce tonight with the fresh stone crabs that are sitting in my fridge. Thanks!

Marie Z said...

Gail... let me know how that turns out for you.. Mz

Allison said...

you are the best cook! yummmmmm