Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Crab Couscous with Green Apple, Mango, Saffron and Lemon

Crab is one of the featured ingredients of the month for February here on A Kitchen In Brooklyn.  For the first crab recipe, I decided to use some fresh lump crabmeat from my local fish market (unfortunately, I was not able to obtain king crab) and decided to prepare a couscous dish.  The crab was not intended to be the star of this dish, but to be featured as one of several complementary flavors.  There are several foods that I think make spectacular food combinations with crab.  These include green apple, tamarind, lemon, avocado, beets, sugar snap peas, snow peas, mango and eggs (not all in the same dish, of course).  I look forward to experimenting with different ways of presenting crab this month.

For my couscous, I decided to complement the crab with some tang/tartness, so I selected green apple, lemon and mango, and also threw in the sugar snap peas.  I added the saffron because the couscous needed a bit of a pick me up, plus it made for a beautiful pale yellow color.  Saffron is very powerful, so you only need a little bit or else it will overpower the other flavors.  The balance of this dish is nice.  Don't forget the lemon at the end, as it adds an important complement and acidity necessary to balance the dish.  This might be one of my best recipes yet, and I'm sharing.

Sasha's Crab Couscous With Green Apple, Mango and Saffron (serves 4)

1 1/2 cups of couscous
1 cup of sugar snap peas (or snow peas, if you prefer)
olive oil (added as described below)
2 diced cloves of garlic
2 T mascarpone cheese
1 diced shallot
1 medium sized mango, diced
2 green apples, peeled and diced
1 lemon, cut into slices
1/8 tsp saffron
salt and pepper to taste

To prepare this dish, I boiled a quart of water and cooked the sugar snap peas until softened (I guess they no longer will "snap").  Then I removed the sugar snap peas and added the couscous to the water.  I cooked the couscous, as per typical instructions, until al dente, about seven minutes.  Then I drained the couscous from the remaining water and mixed with 2T of olive oil.

Next comes the fun part, deciding how to jazz up ordinary couscous to create a new recipe.  I sauteed the shallot and the garlic in a couple tablespoons of olive oil.  Then I cooked the diced mango and apple for a few minutes, until softened.  Next, I added the sugar snap peas and the couscous and cooked for a few minutes over medium heat, adding the saffron and seasoning with salt and pepper.

Then, I added the crab and the mascarpone to the hot couscous and mixed well, to melt the mascarpone.  (you could substitute butter if you prefer).  

Finally, for presentation, I used a small bowl to mold the couscous, and garnished with some of the purple cauliflower presented in last night's post.  (I don't suggest eating the cauliflower with this dish, its too bitter, but it looks to pretty).  When you are ready to eat, season with some of the lemon juice.  I used a Meyer lemon.

This dish is one I will make again and again.  An aside here, it really bothers me when people eat lousy food (that I have to be present to see or smell).  I don't mean foods I don't like, per se, just poor quality food - frozen meals, bad restaurant food, poor quality ingredients, lots of chemicals that serve no purpose, msg etc...  You're putting this stuff in your body so you should care too.  Food is an art and should be treated as such, without dumbing down our taste buds.  

For another dish with crab, check out my crabcakes prepared using Marcus Samuelsson's recipe from his new cookbook.


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