Monday, January 01, 2007

 

Alaskan Colossal Sea Crab and Eggs Benedict

  Happy New Year!

For most westerners, New Year's Day is usually the day in which the point is to rid oneself of his or her hangover. Following that, one usually commits to fulfilling as many of the new year's resolutions made the night before as possible. Remarkably, the fridge is cleaned, the dirty laundry is off the floor, the blinds are dusted...And that's usually where the enthusiasm for the do-good resolutions ends - if not then, certainly within a couple of weeks thereafter. This year I decided not to make any resolutions. In fact, if anything, my angelheart Eric and I had a lunch of utter decadence to celebrate this New Year's Day, the diametric opposite to what the beginning of the new year is for most people: diets and exercise. Truthfully, I do enough exercise for me (yoga four times a week), and though I do not always eat sensibly, I do not usually overeat except on occasions (not the orthodox ones, mind you; usually, the occasions are "because I feel like it", "you're not the boss of me", and "I've been good all week").

Today's special lunch, laissez-faire table-setting aside, was all for the occasion of "because we feel like it". We rarely spend the first day of the new year on our own, so it was a real treat to leisurely play in the kitchen together.

The Alaskan Colossal Sea Crab has the biggest legs you ever did see on a crab with very sweet and substantial meat, which is usually best dipped into a hot sauce or a melted compound butter (ours had chopped parsley). Simply, one need do no more than boil the legs in salted water with half a lemon for approximately 10 minutes.

As for the eggs benedict, they have always been a favorite start to the morning for me. I had never made them before today, but I wanted them anyway. I'm sure no one needs a recipe for these, but I consulted Nigella Lawson's How To Eat for her hollandaise sauce, adjusted the recipe for two, and made the sauce accordingly. I love hollandaise for both its sharpness and richness, but it is fairly flexible in that you can use more or less lemon juice according to your own penchant or dislike for a citrus spike.

Hollandaise Sauce
(from Nigella Lawson's How To Eat)

1 stick of butter (113 grams), cubed
2 egg yolks
juice of 1/4 of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

1) Put egg yolks in a bowl and place bowl over another bowl (or pan) into which 1 inch (2.5cm) of water has been placed. The bowl containing the yolks should not touch the water.
2) As the water is getting to a simmer, whisk yolks constantly.
3) When the water is simmering, gradually whisk the butter into the egg yolks one cube at a time.
4) When the sauce is thick, add the lemon juice, then salt and pepper to taste, whisking all the time.
5) Place the bowl into another bowl or pan, this time containing tepid water, and this time the bowl containing the sauce can touch the water (the purpose is to keep the sauce warm).
6) Before serving, beat the eggs again as it may separate out a bit in the warming process. If curdling occurs, put an ice cube in the sauce and whisk it in to bring down the temperature.

My hint for poached eggs comes from the much adored (by me, anyway) "basics" section at the back of Gary Rhodes' The Cookery Year. Fill up a deep saucepan with water (or replace one-third of the water with vinegar) and bring it to a rapid boil. When it is boiling, use the end of a wooden spoon to create a circular motion in the water. Drop the eggs in one at a time. The spinning water will cause the egg whites to collect and settle around the yolks. If you are a little timid, spiral then drop one egg in, spiral again then drop another egg in, etc. Or you could just do one at a time, transfering each poached egg to a plate as you go. In that case, if you want to reheat them, bring water to rapid boil again, then drop the poached eggs in for one minute.

I do not advocate this as a lunch for anyone on a regular basis. It was all too rich for us, but we didn't care. It may indeed clog our arteries for a while (lots of egg yolks and butter, in addition to whatever cholesterol is increased on account of eating the crab), but that is a consequence with which we can live. The champagne that we had with the crab and eggs benedict made for cleaning and drying the palate between flavorful mouthfuls, allowing for transcendental enjoyment of each decadent mouthful.


May you have a happy, peaceful, and prosperous new year.
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Comments:
What a decadant way to start 2007! Happy New Year!
 
Sara - Yes, it was indeed decadent, but today I feel great, so I guess it cannot have messed too badly with my inner workings. How did you celebrate the new year? Almost time for the WCC round-up. Happy New Year, Sara!
 
Shaun! The crab looks unbelievably good! We cannot get crab like that here. The first time I had snow crab was in Florida when I first met my husband, we spent the evening dipping it in garlic butter and he made gumbo. Fond food memories indeed!
Hope this signals many more great eating experiences for you in 2007!
Love, Freya xxx
 
We stayed home and made a pile of sushi, drank champagne and stayed up too late. It was fun!!
Can't wait for the round up.
 
These look amazing. I'm scared of making both crab legs and poached eggs but I am in favor of eating them. For some reason my poached eggs are always just a mess. I suppose I just need to practice. Maybe that could be my New Years resolution.
 
Freya - I should have taken photos of the crab legs alone because they just have to be seen to be believed. It is clear, though, from the pic in the post how much meat they have. Eric likes the really thick parts, I prefer the milder meat in the thinnest part of the crab legs. I'm sure there will be many more eating adventures this year, although what will be available to me may be limited on account of moving to a very isolated part of the world.

Sara - Sometimes the best nights are the ones in, and that is what Eric and I did on New Year's Eve, too. There are a couple of entries already for WCC # 12.

Breckinridge - Boiling crab legs is as simple as described in my post. You need not serve it with more than either melted butter and/or a hot sauce otherwise the crab meat will be overpowered. I hope you can get your hands on this particular crab meat because it is super delicious.
 
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