Golden curry aioli is a Mardi Gras-colored condiment
that goes perfectly with Dungeness crab at your Mardi Gras crab feast. Image
source: Flickr CC user
There’s something very satisfying about eating with your hands--it really helps you (or at least me) let loose and have fun. One time my friends and I decided to have a no-silverware-required crab feast and it has remained one of my favorite dinner party ideas. We covered the dining room table with newspaper, made some aioli for dipping and dove in.
Speaking of letting loose and having fun, Mardi Gras is coming up on February 28. New Orleans, infamous for its Mardi Gras celebrations, has made the day an official holiday for residents. Louisiana also happens to be the home of crawfish boils, the epitome of messy finger food fun. I’m thinking of celebrating this Mardi Gras with a crawfish boil-inspired shellfish party, making it northern California appropriate with some Dungeness crab. All you need to do is gather some newspapers, make some dipping sauces, and pull out those purple, green, and yellow beads.
Tools You’ll Need
A friend of mine who grew up eating Maryland blue crabs always turns up her nose at people who use crab picking tools. She believes the pointed tips of the crab’s legs are the best tool for grabbing that last little morsel out of the knuckle. She has a point. If you already have crab tools, by all means use them, but if you want, you can just take the butt end of a chef’s knife handle and use it to pre-crack the crab before serving (a heavy meat tenderizer tool also works for this), or buy already cooked, cracked, and cleaned crab, or crab that’s been divided into sections.
I can probably eat a whole crab by myself but I’d allow a half per person and make sure to provide some other snacks or sides; maybe try your hand at some other Cajun and Creole classics like dirty rice or etouffe (although those might be a little difficult to eat with your hands). Don’t forget to cover your table with newspaper or plastic--it gets messy once people start having fun.
The beauty of crab is that it is tasty enough on its own, with maybe just a little squeeze of lemon to bring out more flavor. Of course you can also serve it with melted butter as well, but it’s fun to make your own dipping sauces for a party like this. I like aioli on my crab. You can even make the sauces match the Mardi Gras color scheme with a green goddess aioli and a curry aioli (for green and yellow--I wouldn’t try to include the color purple since it’s not quite as appetizing, in my opinion).
Aioli is a condiment used most often in french cooking. It’s very similar to regular mayonnaise except that aioli adds mustard and garlic, which give depth to the classic eggy flavor of mayonnaise and pair nicely with the sweetness of the crab. You can easily make your own aioli or go the even easier route and simply doctor store-bought mayo with some mustard and chopped garlic. If you have a blender or food processor it’ll make your life even easier.
Basic and Curry Aioli
We’ll start with a basic aioli. After you make this, try it to decide whether you want to go the curry route. Or divide it in two and flavor some with curry and leave the rest plain--you can never have too many sauce choices.
By hand: Using a knife (or mortar and pestle) finely dice then mash the salt and garlic together into a paste. In a bowl place the egg yolks, lemon juice, and mustard. With a whisk, slowly pour in oil as you whisk yolks and mustard together, keeping the mixture emulsified.
In a food processor or blender: combine garlic, salt, yolks, and mustard. Turn on the machine and make ingredients into paste. With the machine running slowly pour in the oil. Adjust salt to taste preference.
For curry aioli, add 1 tablespoon of Madras curry powder and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste to 1 C of aioli.
The Versatility of Green Goddess Aioli
I am a firm believer in the multi-purpose power of green goddess dressing and its ability to taste delicious on everything. On salads, with fish, for crudite platters, on a burger--you name it, it goes. You will need a blender or food processor to make this recipe. If you plan on keeping the dressing for a few days, I would recommend blanching (bring a pot of salted water to a boil and put herbs in for about 15-20 seconds, then take them out and immediately shock in ice water) all the green stuff before pureeing it to retain its green color.
Green Goddess Recipe
Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree together until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. If mixture is too thick, you can add a little water or buttermilk to thin it out.
Make It Messy Without the Fuss for Mardi Gras
In the spirit of both Louisiana and Mardi Gras, this utensil-less crab feast is an appropriate way to celebrate the gluttonous Fat Tuesday. You can make party planning even more simple by ordering all your dungeness crab online and letting Daily Fresh Fish do the cooking this year. Daily Fresh Fish provides sustainably sourced seafood that can be delivered directly to your door, no trip to the store required, and it’s precooked and pre-cracked, too. All you need to worry about are the wet wipes and the king cake, and maybe some sazerac ingredients.