The King Of Salads: Crab Louie

On the first legit hot day of the season, when ladies nicely ask their men to haul the AC unit back into the window and every food website from here to Martha Stewart is touting the benefits of cooling astringent foods, I feel like appetites shift accordingly. I definitely want vegetables, but it can't be rabbit food. I'm still shedding my ravenous winter carnivore skin. But a fish-based salad should do it. Now, to find a Crab Louie on the East Coast.

A Crab Louie is California's answer to the Cobb salad, the King in the East (+1 for fitting a Game of Thrones reference into a Monday morning salad post). There's some ingredient overlap — hard-boiled eggs, cucumber, tomato, romaine and a creamy mayo-based dressing like Thousand Island or ranch — but instead of grilled chicken and bacon, the Louie features fresh crabmeat. In the really authentic cases, like the "we claim to have invented this mish-mash of logical salad ingredients" cases, shredded crabmeat is whisked in with the dressing.

Now about that crabmeat. Surimi, the ground fish re-shaped, dyed and most recently occupying your California roll, will not make a Crab Louie salad. The point of this dish, is to present fresh, sweet crustacean meat in the friendliest possible environment. If I didn't know so many people who consider surimi (imitation crab, "krab," or any of the other equally appealing nicknames to be a viable substitute), I wouldn't have to point it out on the bench not getting played and looking pissed off.

The most seasonal vegetables, the freshest crab and the will to shed said comfy ravenous winter carnivore skin for something a little more weather appropriate should yield a salad that would stir the envy of even the mellowest Dungeness-worshipping San Franciscan.