Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Hawthornes Attend Cooking Class At The NC Aquarium.

 The Hawthornes attended another cooking class
at the NC Aquarium in Manteo this week.
Sadly, it was the last one of the season. 
Happily, it was presented by Chef Randolph Sprinkle
And you know Rosie loves her some Saltbox!

 Our first delight was a quick summer crab salad.
At The Saltbox,
Chef Randolph serves this in a delicate tomato "bowl-"
A tomato is sliced paper-thin, then the slices are curled and overlapped
to make a bowl. 
Mixed greens are tossed in a vinaigrette,
 nestled inside the tomato bowl,
and topped with the crab meat salad.

In fact, this appetizer
graced the cover of the spring issue of North Beach Sun Magazine.
 (Photo by NOT Rosie.)
Chefs Sprinkles at The Saltbox Café,
displaying cover of NB Sun Magazine
with crab salad in tomato bowl.

In this particular dish, the crab meat shines.
Too often I have found,
 delicate, fragile crab meat is overpowered
by whatever additives are used to bind.
Here, Chef Randolph uses a deft hand
to lightly dress the meat,
letting the crab be the main attraction.

For the dressing, 
Chef Randolph blended 1 cup mayo
 with 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
and 1/4 cup fresh basil.
A pound of crab meat was gently mixed
with the dressing and the whole was chilled for about 20 minutes,
just enough time for the flavors to marry and develop.

Chef Randolph and his capable assistant, Nohea,
preparing our offerings.
 'tis the season for soft shells!
And here we have a short-smoked soft shell crab sandwich.

Directions:  In a metal baking pan, add wood chips.
(I believe Chef Randolph used mesquite.)
In a perforated pan, place seasoned soft shell crabs.
Cover with heavy duty foil wrap.
Take wood chip baking pan
and place over stove.
Heat pan until lightly smoky.
Take perforated pan and place over smoking baking pan.
Turn off heat and let sit 3-4 minutes.
Dust crabs in seasoned flour.
In a medium pan, add vegetable oil
Sauté crabs each side 3 minutes (until cooked through).
Serve on hamburger bun with toppings and enjoy.


However, Rosie is a soft shell purist.
(Though she might just try the suggested smoked black pepper treatment.)

When I have soft shells,
I don't want anything between me and my soft shells.
I just want the crab - and pure crab flavor.

And I'm not a fan of the po' boy treatment either.
So no bread for me.
Just gimme crab.
Just crab.

That said, I still liked this,
although I'd prefer Chef Randolph's traditional treatment
of a fried soft shell.

Different strokes for different folks,
so don't hate me.

  Our theme this season at the aquarium
has focused on the lionfish.
(For information about this invasive species,
please see here.)

So our third offering was battered and deep-fried lionfish fillet.

 Lightly battered and fried,
served with a capered aioli,
this was delicious.
Thank you, NC Aquarium and Chef Randolph
for another winning presentation!

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