Going Coastal: West Indies Salad

Ever since homo sapiens have been knocking around what is now Latin America they have been chemically cooking seafood in citrus juice.  The result is a dish known throughout the world as ceviche.  Most ceviche recipes involve fresh, raw fish and/or shell fish mixed with herbs, spices, onions, tomatoes all tossed in fresh squeezed lime juice.  The process is often referred to as chemically cooked.

Here is how the popular foodie site Chow.com explains the method, "Both heat and citric acid are agents of a chemical process called denaturation. In this process, the heat or citric acid changes the proteins in the fish, unraveling the molecules and altering their chemical and physical properties. When fish is bathed in citrus juices (acid), this process of denaturation turns the flesh firm and opaque, as if it had been cooked with heat."

Mobile, Alabama is famous for a dish very much in the vein of ceviche called West Indies Salad where crab meat is "chemically cooked" in apple cider vinegar to make a concoction that can either be a garnish for entrees like Steak Oscar or enjoyed on it's own with a sleeve of saltines.  For more on the history of Mobiles quintessential dish check out my article West Indies Salad, a runner-up submission for the Tava: Share Your Discovery Contest.  Below is my own recipe which differs from the original by substituting milder rice wine vinegar for traditional cider vinegar.  I find that rice wine vinegar allows more of the crab's natural sweetness to shine.

West Indies Salad
1 pound lump white crab meat (Gulf blue crab is best)
3 tablespoons finely diced red onion
4 oz. Olive Oil
4 oz. unseasoned rice wine vinegar
4 oz. ice water
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine onions, crab, salt, and pepper in a glass bowl. In order add oil, vinegar, and ice water then mix.  Let set at least 1 hour before serving.
0 Responses