Saturday, August 21, 2010

Louie, Louie, crab Louis

If you order crab Louis and the waitress asks what kind of dressing you want on your salad, just walk out the door. Crab Louis has its dressing built into the dish. It is crabmeat. It is lettuce. But it's the dressing that makes it crab Louis.

Crab Louis
adapted from "Creole Gumbo and All That Jazz" by Howard Mitcham (Addison-Wesley, 1978, 180 pages)
Serves 4

1 large head (or 2 small) romaine lettuce
1 cup homemade mayonnaise
1/4 cup tomato sauce, or 2 tablespoons tomato paste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon capers
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 pound fresh crabmeat, picked clean and squeezed dry
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the lettuce, remove the coarse ribs and shred. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, tomato sauce or paste, lemon juice, capers and cayenne together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Blend in the lettuce and the crab, gently as not to break it up, until both are well coated. Serve in individual salad bowls.

Homemade mayonnaise

2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
White pepper to taste
16 ounces olive or canola oil

Beat together the yolks and the seasoning ingredients. Add the oil, a drop at a time at first, then in a slow, steady stream. Keep beating until all the oil is absorbed. If it curdles, you have added the oil too quickly. Start over with a new bowl and an egg yolk. Beat the yolk, and add the curdled mixture to it slowly. The final mixture should be velvety, creamy and smooth, and it should have a full-bodied zest.


  1. Once, when asked the dressing question, I answered, "Louis." The waitress said, "What's that?" Then I walked out the door. I've never used capers...yum!

    I make mayo in a blender. Blend all ingredients except the oil on a high speed. With the blender still on, pour the oil in through the open top in a slow steady stream. I get more predictable results than when I try beating it by hand.

  2. I think I'm going to try the blender; I've done hollandaise in it, with great results. Thanks for the tip!