I hadn’t been in a hands-on cooking class since ninth grade home economics, so when I walked into the Crab 101 class at Salty’s at Redondo Beach on Feb. 27 I was a little intimidated. And the gal next to me echoed out loud what was happening in my brain: “This is a little intimidating,” she told her friend. Guess I wasn’t being a baby. Or at least not the only one.
So what was intimidating? Well, the folks at Salty’s had a mile-long table with 20-some individual cooking stations set up with all the things we needed: ingredients, knife, tongs, and a stove to cook on. Salty’s official recipe tester, Celeste Stubner (yes, everyone wants her job), was leading the class along with chefs Aaron Grund and Paolo DiGregorio. And before we got started, we were handed a glass of Champagne. That helped ease my nerves.
Then, we learned how to crack and clean whole crabs and separate the meat from the shells. Some people in the class had never done that before, and it was a fun getting messy. This I knew how to do! We each had a whole crab, and I learned some tricks – like if you don’t have something to pick out the crab from the shell, you can use the pointy part of the crab to help you do the work.
When we cleaned the crabs we used some of the meat to make our own crab salad to eat on the spot. We chopped and combined bitter greens, blood oranges, cara cara oranges, a Meyer lemon, avocado, and walnut pieces, and tossed it all with a bit of olive oil. It was light and easy and I discovered I like fancy oranges. It was paired with 9 Hats Riesling wine.
Next, we made Dungeness crab cakes with red pepper remoulade sauce and it was to die for. The sauce and the crab cakes were some of the best I’ve ever had — and I made both! The chefs and Stubner helped everyone, answering questions and instilling confidence by saying things like, “recipes are just guidelines, feel free to add as much or as little of (fill in the blank) as you like.” I cut my first real anchovy, and learned some tricks about how to really mince the heck out of an onion without cutting my fingers. This course was paired with AIX Rose wine. Delicious.
It was the best Monday night I’ve had in a while. I had to restrain myself from eating all my creations, so, like a kid, I could bring it home and share (show off?).
Watch for a variety of classes from crabs to cupcakes and cocktails at all three locations here.
Photos by Ian Hilger via Salty’s at Redondo Beach on Facebook