Monday, August 6, 2012

Refreshing Crab and Prawn Salad Dinner

It was the hottest day of the year and neither of us felt like a hot meal.  "I could make that crab salad again?"
"That was good!"
I trotted off to the grocery store. Raw tiger prawns were on sale too so I bought 10 of those for one salad and a small package of imitation crab meat. I like the taste of crab but not the shell or the price.  I like the taste of imitation crab and the price and texture are acceptable so I don't mind using it at all. My total protein costs for all three salads was less than $4.

I initially said potato salad but on the way to the store I thought, couscous! So I bought some of that too. Somehow I managed to buy imitation crab and forget the avocado.  Good thing we have a local grocer on the way home. Fern had picked up green peppers and cucumbers at the farmers market so I didn't need much.

I bought bulk couscous but I wasn't sure if it was the quick cook or long steam type.  Popular opinion favored quick cook in western countries so it was probably that but I did a test.  The instructions said use 1:3 couscous to water and boil till thick.  Boiling till thick doesn't sound like a good recipe for anything but glue. I put 1/3 cup couscous in a pot with 1 cup water, brought it to a boil and set it aside for 5 minutes.  It was soupy.  I added 1/3 cup boiling chicken stock and another 1/3 cup couscous and waited another 5 minutes. It was perfect.  So the instructions should say 1 part couscous to 2 parts boiling water or stock, let stand 5 minutes. I set the couscous aside to cool.

In winter I would make the crab and avocado salad with alfalfa sprouts but since we have a garden of fresh lettuce I decided to do a chiffonade of lettuce. To do that just roll up the lettuce leaves from the side and take 1/8 inch, 3 mm slices off the end which fall into beautiful ribbons. For color and crunch I used carrot thins and cucumber strips. Also some fresh green pepper for sweet crunch.

I first shelled (including tails), cleaned (take dark line out, it's prawn poop) and cooked the prawns in butter and fresh garlic then put them aside to cool. I juiced a lemon and started cutting the avocado.  I sliced it in half lengthwise and took out the stone then sliced a grid into the flesh and scooped out the pieces with a spoon. As soon as I had the avocado out of it's skin I poured the lemon juice over it to prevent it turning black. I also chopped up some chives for all three dishes.

I broke the imitation crab up so there were no lumps, they don't improve the mouth feel. Added the lettuce chiffonade, some chives and half the carrot thins.  Then I added some extra virgin olive oil and rice oil and some salt and mixed pepper. I use just over half rice oil because I find pure olive oil overwhelms all the other flavors. I tossed it all with the avocado.

The prawn salad contained chives, green pepper, cucumber, carrot, olive/rice oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. The couscous I used olive/rice oil, parsley, chives, salt and the juice of one lime. It wasn't enough so I used half a lemon also and that did the trick.  I stirred that together and plated it.  I plated the crab salad over the couscous as I intended them to be eaten together and shrimp salad was on the side.

I poured the poured the lemon/lime juice and oil directly on the salad which prevented me from mixing it up and tasting it first.  I think next time I'll make the dressing for each salad in a separate bowl so I can get it right before it goes on the food.

It was all fresh, light and bright tasting.  I couldn't finish all my couscous and I left a little of each salad for the dogs.  They licked the plates clean so I would say that's the final word, it was plate licking good.

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