What Nell Ate: 8.30.17

As a kid (and into my twenties), I would often go to a particular restaurant with my parents and grandparents. If it wasn’t every weekend, it was at least every other weekend. However, I never got tired of going. That’s because I loved salads and that restaurant just so happened to have my favorite salad in the entire world. There were all sorts of great toppings on it, but the star of the show was their crab salad. It was only imitation crab, but this actually suited me just fine because at the time, I couldn’t stand real crab. I ate this same salad over and over and over again. Each Crab Louie-esque salad was as good as the last.

I have tried to duplicate the magic of this particular salad for years, but I haven’t had much luck. Without the perfect crab salad, it simply couldn’t be done. From trying other people’s crab salad recipes to buying store prepared crab salads, I sampled every variety of seafood salad I could get my hands on. However, they simply never tasted the same. They never tasted quite right. No matter what I would do to tweak it, no one’s recipe tasted anything similar to the crab salad I loved so much.

Too savory.

Too chunky.

Too thin.

Too sweet.

No salt.

No flavor.

No veggies.

No meat.

Eventually, I gave up hope of ever being able to recreate my favorite salad at home. Well, I had given up until now. While shopping yesterday, I decided that I needed more seafood options in my diet besides just grilled fish, baked fish and shrimp. Although I’m perfectly happy not eating meat and I’m not tired of seafood, sometimes a girl just needs more variety in her life. I happened upon the imitation crab meat while checking out the store’s seafood offerings. I couldn’t help but wonder if I should give it one more shot. After all, I’ve gotten really good at mimicking recipes. Perhaps it was time to try again.

After contemplating what kinds of flavors and ingredients might be in the restaurant’s crab salad, I got started with my experiment. I won’t lie…handling the “crab meat” was a little creepy for me at first. After all, it’s kind of weird. I mean, they looked like crab legs, but they weren’t crab legs. Even Cami looked disturbed when I let her sniff the empty package. *shudder* All the same, I was determined to have crab salad.

Once I was finished, I was a little afraid to try it. What if it was awful like all those times before? What on Earth would I do with an entire bowl of gross fake crab salad?

Curious, I sniffed it.

It smelled okay.

Edit: It smelled really good.

Next, I squinted at it.

It looked okay.

In fact, it looked more appetizing than the salad at the restaurant.

 

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Shrugging, I licked the spoon and realized that I had finally done it! It was a dead ringer for the crab salad at the restaurant—I seriously wouldn’t know the difference. I was so excited. For dinner this evening, I added some of the crab salad to a bed of lettuce and made a simplified version of my childhood favorite.

As weird as it may sound, this is such a huge culinary accomplishment for me. My recipe is a little different due to all of the extra vegetables that I wished to add to it, but the taste itself is so reminiscent of the original that I could just cry. How long has it been? Twenty plus years. I guess persistence really does pay off!

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