Portland’s “French-Arabesque” restaurant Levant serves fine Middle Eastern food for the discerning hummus aficionado. Chef-owner Scott Snyder’s Israeli roots combined with masterful French technique shine in a menu of bright, hearty yet refined cuisine focused on local, seasonal produce. When herbs and peppers take over your garden and you’re grilling seven nights a week, break out the chef’s recipe for Dungeness crab with fiery, flavorful z’houg, a popular (and powerful) condiment.

“The inspiration for this dish came from grilling crabs, oysters and other shellfish as a kid on the Puget Sound,” says the chef. “I spent summers up there with my grandparents grilling all kinds of seafood. I thought our housemade z’houg would be a really natural flavor pairing for grilled crab — it’s really herbaceous and reminded me of a Vietnamese-style wok-fried crab. The grilled oranges add great depth of flavor, and the acidity of citrus complements seafood so well.”

A few tips from the chef:

  • The crab cooks faster than you think, so watch the heat carefully.
  • Make sure you crack the shells before tossing them with the z’houg so the sauce can get under the shells.
  • After you take the crabs off the grill, cover them with a kitchen towel and use a mallet or a heavy knife to crack open each section of the legs.

And enjoy!