I recently stopped by Morro Bay, a small town on the central coast of California. While sitting in a waterside restaurant and staring at the resident sea lion hunting for his lunch, I ordered a Crab and Shrimp Louis salad for mine. I had a wonderful meal, and I hope the sea lion fared as well as I did!
A quintessentially West Coast salad, the Louis first appeared in restaurants around the turn of the century. You can make the salad with crab, shrimp, or a combination of the two, and it’s usually served with a spicy variation on Thousand Island dressing. There are loads of recipes for Louis dressing, some of them quite upscale and fussy, but I like the easy variation I have here. The trick to a perfect Louis salad is to serve it with all the ingredients well chilled, with the freshest seafood you can find. Dressing can be served over the salad, or on the side. My preference is on the side, because I like to taste all the ingredients with just a touch of dressing.
Serves two, and the recipe can be doubled.
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
English cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced, about 6 slices per serving or to taste
4 ounces cooked bay shrimp (salad shrimp)
4 ounces crabmeat, Dungeness if you can get it
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
1 avocado, sliced
2 small vine ripened tomatoes, quartered.
1/3 cup mayonnaise (you can use light mayo, but adjust your seasonings)
6 tablespoons hot chile sauce, or to taste (Heinz ™ makes a good one)
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
Generous pinch of sweet paprika
Whisk all the dressing ingredients together, and check your seasonings. Add sea salt and pepper to taste, and chill.
Make sure the eggs are completely chilled before you put them on the salad. Divide the ingredients in two, lettuce on the bottom of each salad plate or bowl. Arrange the ingredients prettily on the top of the salad, with dressing on the top or the side. Leave the tossing of the salad to the person eating it. Deciding how to eat the salad is half the fun of the meal!