Sunday, February 25, 2007

Why I miss my camera -- Crab, Avocado, and Citrus Salad

Ah, friends, never fear -- just because I haven't been taking pictures of my food doesn't mean we haven't been making some delicious things this week: Lamb kebabs with minted couscous, pasta primavera with chicken and spring veggies, Dover sole in parchment with roasted potatoes and broccoli, and seared scallops with dijon sauce. Sadly, I have no pictures to share -- the camera doctor has not yet called me to let me know the estimate of damages.

It is funny, I have only been blogging for a few months, but I already feel naked without my camera. There is a strange sense of something missing if I make a dish now and don't photograph it. For example, I wanted to save a bag of oddly shaped noodles to use when my camera is fixed -- I thought to myself, what is the point of making something if I can't take its picture? (I ended up slapping myself straight and using them anyway in the pasta primavera.)

In such a short amount of time I've fallen prey to Food Blogger Syndrome -- mentally writing blog posts as I cook, examining shelves and stalls at the grocery store and farmer's market looking for something odd to display for you all, or throwing a pity party for myself because I can't take a picture of the pretty dish I just made.

How silly - right? I mean, what is the point of cooking? -- nourishment, of course, bonding with your loved ones, socializing...and something more. The pleasure of it. The joy of watching a pile of raw ingredients turn into something you want to enjoy and share. And, you know what? I can do all of those things without my camera. And, honestly, if I really thing about it, there was only one dish I made this week that I really regret not being able to photograph: A magical salad of king crab, avocado, mandarin oranges, cucumbers, arugula, red onions, black sesame seeds, and homemade dressing.

It isn't that the other dishes were not delicious or pretty, but this one just had something special. The colors are astounding (green, white-pink, orange, black, and purple) and the flavors/textures stunningly well matched (salty, sweet, crunchy, rich, and spicy). Try it and see: it is hard not to love this salad. Each bite is different -- in one you'll get a salty piece of crab with some creamy avocado, in another a crunchy bit of cucumber with a sweet segment of orange, and another with all four of those, plus some spicy arugula. I (and hopefully you will) love it.

Crab, Avocado, and Citrus Salad (serves 3 to 4)


--2 large king crab legs, cooked, meat removed, and then diced into bite size pieces (or substitute grilled shrimp or tuna if crab isn't your style)
--2 ripe avocados, flesh cubed
--1/2 red onion, sliced as thin as possible, and then roughly diced
--2/3 cucumber, cut into bite size chunks
-- 6 to 8 seedless mandarin oranges, peeled and segments separated
--1/2 pound mixed greens, including quite a bit of arugula

--splash of sesame oil
--3 tablespoons rice vinegar
--1/2 teaspoon rooster sauce
--teaspoon finely diced fresh ginger root
--1 clove of garlic, finely chopped or one cube of Trader Joe's frozen garlic
-- splash of soy sauce (if needed) (we didn't because our crab was particularly salty)
--1/4 cup corn or safflower oil OR 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock (for a lighter dressing)

-- black sesame seeds


1) Combine first six ingredients, and toss well

2) Whisk the remaining seven ingredients together in a small bowl

3) Pour the dressing over the salad, and mix well

4) Sprinkle black (or white) sesame seeds over top

To serve:

Plate salad in a deep flat bowl. Offer a side of fresh bread. Enjoy.


Be sure to adjust amounts of ingredients to suit your tastes. If you have a small cucumber, use two. If you don't have mandarin oranges, substitute blood oranges. If you love Mexican flavors, omit the sesame seeds and the dressing, and substitute them with cilantro and a spicy south of the border dressing instead. Make this salad your own. And, be sure to let me know how it goes.

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