Living in the Pacific Northwest right on the cusp of the Pacific is a constant source of delight for me, especially as it offers the wonders of fresh seafood. As we walked down the slick red tiles of Pike Place Market, stall after stall boasted of the freshest salmon, cod, shrimp, crab, muscles, clams... the list goes on and on. Rows on rows stack up and around your shoulders as you near the stalls and the fresh light scents of ice and fish scales fills your lungs.
Reaching the end of the market, we picked out a crab from the last stall. Ten dollars for a crab with two pounds of light flaky meat in him.
The fellow in full rubber overalls picked it up and asked me if I'd like him to clean it. "Yes please," I said, not knowing that it would be an extra ten dollars. Next time I will be cleaning it on my own (3:10 is where the cleaning starts). I was prepared to need a hammer or some other specialized instrument. No such thing is needed.
Still happy with our prize, we wended our way along and out of the market as the flower vendors began opening up great sheaths of flowers and setting out the new arrangements for the coming day.
After dispersing our various ways for the day, we gathered again that night over the table and prepared the meal. With two picking the crab and one preparing the wraps and avocado, we soon found ourselves sitting over a smattering of delicacies, rolling up into little bundles, and lifting them (mostly whole) into our mouths with our chopsticks.
The rhythm of this kind of meal is half of my love of them. Space and time are required to build each bite with care, admire your success, and enjoy the satisfaction of actually getting to taste it. From the crisp cucumber wrap to the tangy hot sweet crab meat and buttery avocado, they are a riot of textures and flavors...a delightful, delicious riot.
CRAB AVOCADO (AND CUCUMBER) MAKI
modified from Nom Nom Paleo's Crab + Avocado Temaki
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 lb cooked lump crab meat
½ t red pepper flakes
juice from ½ medium lime
Sea Salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Mix well and set aside.
2 small cucumbers
Using a vegetable peeler or julienne slicer, cut thin, wide strips of cucumber until you hit the seeded core. Turn the cucumber over and repeat. Cut the cores into matchsticks. Set aside.
1 avocado, thinly sliced
Place on a plate along with the cucumber.
radish sprouts (for some spice) or microgreens
Add a generous heap next to the cucumber and avocado.
To put each roll together, lay out a cucumber wrap. Place a dab of crab, a matchstick of cucumber, a sliver of avocado, and a pinch (or more) of greens. Pull one side of the wrap up and around and then the other to hug the crab inside firmly.
Pick it up with your chopsticks and hope it reaches your mouth intact! (hint: the tighter the cucumber clings to itself, the greater your success rate).