There are a hundred “best part”s of living in the SF Bay Area. One of those “best parts” is Dungeness crab season. The oceans are full of crabs, but none of those other crabs can hold a candle to Dungeness crab. As with all crabs, there’s a lot that gets thrown away, and only a bit that gets eaten. This had been a puzzle to me for some time.
Then, last week, the solution occurred to me: crab stock! My brother-in-law got a whole big bag of crab “leftovers” from a local seafood store: shells, the butter, the gills, all the parts that don’t get sold to the public when Dungeness crabs are cooked, cracked, and cleaned. I filled my biggest stock pot with crab left-behinds, topped up with water, and brought to a slow boil. After an hour, I strained off the liquid, pitched the crabby-stuff, and reduced the liquor by about half. Now all I needed was something to do with my newly crafted liquid gold.
I had made a seafood risotto a few months back that was a big, big hit. But my beautiful bride had asked for my Cajifornian Jumpalaya. So first, I made a batch of my amazing Cajifornian (sometime called Creolifornian) spice:
5 parts sweet paprika
2 parts thyme
3 parts Italian herb
2 parts each granulated onion and granulated garlic
1 part each ground black, white, and red pepper
Since learning the parboil trick, I now use short grain brown rice (Lundberg Farms) for both risotto and Jambalaya. The result is not as seductively silky as with white Arborio rice, the texture is firmer, the flavor nuttier, the results healthier. So here goes, Jambalaya a la risotto:
Parboil 1 cup shortgrain brown rice in 6 cups crab stock for 25 minutes, drain, reserve cooking stock in a microwave safe bowl.
- 2/3 cup diced green bell pepper
- 2/3 cup diced celery
- 1 1/3 cup diced yellow onion
2 clove smashed garlic
1/2 cup sliced green onion
2 tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp Cajifornian herb mix (from above)
1/2 tsp salt + more, to taste
2/3 cup dry white wine
9 oz Andouille/smoked sausage, diced
12 oz cleaned shrimp
12 oz firm white fish, cubed
Meat from one large Dungeness crab
(Optional) 3 oz grated parmesan cheese
1 can petite diced (no salt added) tomatoes
Put the shrimp shells and any leftovers from the Dungeness crab in the reserved crab stock and bring to a boil in the microwave. Steep for a half hour, strain, reserve this enhanced stock. Keep it handy to your cooktop, you’ll be using it very soon.
In a 5qt enameled Dutch oven (or similar), add 1 tbsp EVOO and heat to med-medhi. When oil ripples, add the parboiled rice, stir to coat. Continue stirring/shaking until the rice is hot and fragrant. Add the diced Trinity, saute/stir/shake for a few minutes, until the vegetables are fragrant and begin to soften. Add the garlic, when the garlic is fragrant, add the white whine and stir vigorously until nearly evaporated.
Start a 25 minute timer. Using a ladle, add about 1/2 cup of stock to the rice/veg mixture, stir frequently. Keep the mixture at a vigorous boil. You want the grains of rice to rub against each other, releasing the starch that forms the distinctive creamy sauce. When nearly dry, add another 1/2 cup stock, continue for about 15 minutes. Add the Cajifornian herb mix, salt, the Andouille sausage, and the can of tomatoes. Continue stirring, adding 1/2 cup stock when nearly dry.
At 20 minutes, taste test the rice. The objective is tender but firm rice, with a rich creamy sauce. Adjust seasoning if necessary, the mixture should be slightly tangy and salty at this point (you still have all that seafood to add). Continue cooking and adding water to achieve the desired texture and consistency.
When nearly done, add the shrimp and cubed white fish, plus Parmesan (if using) and the final 1 tbsp of EVOO. Fold together with rice, return to a low boil, cover the pot, then reduce heat to low. Allow about 5 minutes for the shrimp and fish to just cook through.
To serve, put a large scoop of Jambaloto on the plate and top with green onion and a generous amount of crab meat. Serve with hot sauce, a green salad, and beer or your favorite beverage. Enjoy!
G’day all, and may God continue to bless America!