Possibly the best thing to ever come out of Alabama is West Indies Crab Salad, IMO. My godmother taught me to make this recipe years ago and I just absolutely love it. My little sister wasn’t born in Alabama, but my Godmother bribed my mother to have the christening take place in Alabama with promises of planning the after party, and the clincher, serving this salad. I’ve said it before food is love.
The original recipe was created by Bill Bayley in 1947. Mr. Bayley was a restaurateur and guarded his recipe for years until it was eventually published in the 1964 edition of the Junior League of Mobile’s cookbook. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly from Wesson vegetable oil to grapeseed oil, since I just can’t stand to use vegetable oil anymore. Grapeseeed was a great substitution since it’s lighter than olive oil and has such a delicate flavor. I also added chopped chives for color. This salad would be lovely at a luncheon served on a bed of butter lettuce, but I generally serve it with crackers as an appetizer.
I used the Whole Foods Whole Catch Jumbo Lump Crabmeat, but you can also use Costco’s lump crab meat for about half the cost. The advantage to the Whole Foods line is that in two containers – there were no shells at all to pick out. If you haven’t prepared lump crab before after rinsing, just squish the lumps between your fingers to ensure that there are no shells left and separate the crab meat.
I keep promising photos of my mountain adventure so here are a few. I’m hitting at least four outdoor concerts a week. This is actually from the Wednesday Deer Valley free concert series – that’s my son Quentin after he spilled his grandmothers red wine all over his shirt. Trust me – wine on the side of a mountain can be tricky. You absolutely have to have these wine bottle and glass holders .
And this is my best friend Lisa who brought her boys out to stay with me for awhile. These concerts are a cornucopia of dining al fresco, friends, wine and children running around everywhere. And here’s me – at the top of the mountain. I’m spending my days hiking in the quiet and planning luxurious picnics for my evening outdoor concerts. Rough life, eh? I highly recommend it for your mental health!
West Indies Crab Salad
1 and 1/2 large yellow onions, very finely chopped
1 lb. jumbo lump crabmeat, picked through for shells
4 oz grapeseed oil
3 oz apple cider vinegar
4 oz extremly cold ice water
1 and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp finely ground black pepper
2 tbsps chopped fresh chives
In a bowl, layer half the onions, then top with the crab meat, then the other half of the onions. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, vinager, and water for the dressing. Pour over the crab mixture and let marinate in refrigerator 6-12 hours – the longer the better. An hour before serving, stir, add the salt, pepper, and fresh chives. Stir again just before serving.
Serve on a bed of butter lettuce or on crackers as an appetizer.