I have been making my version of Crab Louie Salad for years, in one version or another, and it dawned on me today when a client asked for a cool salad with substance (ie “meat”) that I have never put pen to paper and wrote my recipe down. Okay, “fingers to keyboard”… Wireless keyboard.
If you know me, you know I love kitsch when it comes to food. The recipes that transpired in the middle of the 20th century, thanks to women’s magazines, and female food columnist for newspapers that were either local or national, always peaked my interest and taste buds. Recipes that were classical European in origin that had been adapted to the time… and usually required jarred mayonnaise or a box of flavored gelatin. Food delights such as Tomato Aspic, Vichyssoise soup, Watergate Salad, Chicken a la King, and… Crab Louie of course.
The first time I had Crab Louie was the first time I ever visited Las Vegas in 1990 with my pseudo big brother, Gragg White. Gragg and I were not only from Sapulpa and the White Family close family friends, but we were also roommates for a time at Oklahoma State. Along with fellow Sapulpan and friend, Dave Schmidt, the three of us occupied a house on Berry Street in Stillwater, Oklahoma. There are many fun memories from that time, but I will touch on that in the dessert cookbook. #GreenShagCake
Anyway, one spring break Gragg and I decided that we were going to drive from Stillwater to Las Vegas. A road trip across the West, Howard Johnson’s diners with club sandwiches, and La Quinta Hotels. Once in Vegas and after a night of learning how to play Black Jack at the iconic Fremont Casino (we were newbies, in our early 20’s, and on a budget.) we popped into their "twenty-five cent buffet" that just so happened to be offering… Crab Louie.
Crab Louie stuck with me. Somehow it sang of “Brat Pack” and the kitsch that went along with Vegas and the American food scene of the early 1960’s. Technically Crab Louie originated in 1914… but like fashion, it circulated back around to homemaker’s kitchens in the 1960’s… But I digress.
Crab Louie Salad is a breeze to make, it is definitely cool, fresh, and “substantial”. Like with anything FOOD it can be transformed, in subtle detail, to anything that floats your taste bud boat.
For the Homemade Thousand Island Dressing
1 cup good quality mayonnaise
3 heaping tablespoons Heinz Chili Sauce (looks like ketchup, but made with chili peppers)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons In the Kitchen With Scotty “Little Bit More” Blackening Spice
3 good shakes of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine evenly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to mix your salad.
For The Salad
1 pound fresh cooked crabmeat (Dungeness preferred or whatever is available)
Homemade Thousand Island Dressing
2-3 tablespoons chopped green onion, the white and green portions
3 tablespoon small diced celery
4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced quartered
1 small ripe avocado, sliced thinly
romaine lettuce, rough chopped
There are two schools when it comes to building your Crab Louie Salad, and I enjoy them both.. it just depends on the style of crab meat that is available to me.
If I am fortunate enough to have rather large pieces of fresh cooked Dungeness Crab, I will lay out a bed of fresh chopped Romaine or Butterhead lettuce, top with the large pieces/chunks of crab meat (maybe some shrimp too) , lightly dress the top of the crab with my thousand island dressing and fit in the eggs, avocados, sliced green onions, maybe sliced radish and asparagus spears too, around the salad.
Basically make a large bowl of mixed crab salad, as I did today and stuffed into an heirloom tomato and served with homemade pita bread.
- In a bowl combine the crab meat, chopped green onion, and diced celery. Add one cup or more of the thousand island dressing, and mix the salad together.
- You may drape the salad over a wedge or chopped romaine, and add the quartered eggs, avocado, and any other accompaniment you would like.
- You may also “stuff” it into something… like a hollowed out tomato, large red bell pepper, or large avocado. Crab Louie doesn't care how you use it… just as long as it brings you luck and happiness at your next meal!