Texas Mexican Crab Cocktail
When I bite into the succulent, sweet Texas Gulf crab meat I am taken back in time.
It is 1528 when Karankawas find bedraggled Spaniards shipwrecked on their shores, now called Galveston Island. Lucky for the Spaniards that the Karankawa nurse them, feed them. Evidence of Karankawa civilization and food dates back to 700 AD so that by 1500 our Texas Indian ancestors have been preparing and eating seafood for centuries.(1) They grilled seafood and also steamed it in shell-lined hearths. Every Texas Gulf seafood dish today recalls our indigenous past.
I’ve chosen to prepare this Texas Mexican crab cocktail because it is delicious for Springtime. It has three layers, each distinctive in flavor and texture, that blend together beautifully.
Recipe (serves four as an appetizer)
1/2 lb lump crab meat, picked over, rinsed thoroughly in iced water and patted dry.
For the Pico de Gallo (called “Salsa Mexicana” in Mexico)
4 roma tomatoes, concasse
3 Tbs white onion, small dice
2 Tbs Jalapeño chile, seeded, deveined and diced small
3 Tbs Cilantro, coarsely chopped
juice of 2 Mexican limes
1/4 tsp salt
4 sprigs Cilantro for garnish
One Guacamole recipe as in my previous blog, but omitting the diced tomato and diced onion at the end.
4 Mexican limes, sliced in half
To prepare the pico de gallo I peel and seed the tomatoes (concassé) which is anathema in Texas Mexican cuisine. We never peel the tomatoes. Tomato peel is rich in lycopene which is a super-effective anti-oxidant and adds significantly to a healthy diet. But, I’m doing so in this particular dish just because I want to show how to peel tomatoes if you ever have to or want to. Besides, it gives a nod to the French side of our Texas Mexican history. In regular pico de gallo the tomato is not peeled.
1. In a 3-quart saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.
2. With a sharp knife, pierce the skin of each tomato by making an X that extends all across the tomato. You can see this in the picture to the right. As best you can, cut only the skin and not the flesh.
3. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for only 30 seconds.
4. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.
5. Peel the skin off each tomato, quarter them and seed them. Then dice them small.
6. Combine the tomatoes concassé with the diced onion, diced Jalapeño chile, Cilantro, lime and salt. Felicidades! That’s the pico de gallo.
7. In chilled sherbet glasses layer the guacamole on the bottom, then the pico de gallo (NOTE: save some for garnish on top) and finally the lump crabmeat.
8. Garnish with a little pico de gallo and a sprig of Cilantro. Serve with halved Mexican limes.
As always, please let me know how this turns out if you make it. Hasta luego,
NOTES: (1) The Indians of Texas, W.W. Newcomb, Jr.