To get to Quansoo beach on Martha's Vineyard, you need to cross a wooden bridge arching over Crab Creek. The water rises and falls depending on whether the sand barrier between the beach and Tisbury Pond has been broken open to flood the pond with salt water for the shellfish. A couple of times a season, the beach is turned into a natural water slide where you could ride the strong current from the ocean into the pond. It's called crab creek because it's one of the island's prime crabbing spots. I started as a little kid tagging behind my big brother as he scoped the water for blue crabs. We would pack our haul into the bags on the backs of our bikes and ride home. Jump foreword twenty years and my crab hunting has been upgraded with the help of a paddle board and polarized glasses. Those crabs don't stand a chance. Quickly sneaking up and attacking from above plus glasses that help you see better into the water makes for a crab catch that would have made my younger self proud.
Home shucked Katama oysters enjoyed with a chilled glass of white wine for pre-dinner apéro on the back deck.
Seared Scallop with Coconut Crabmeat
1/2 to 1 cup crabmeat
2 onions, diced
2 handfuls basil
2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
1 cup coconut cream (separating the cream from the liquid, reserving both)
2 tablespoons of white wine
Pinch of salt and pepper, adapting to taste
Coconut Crabmeat Purée
Add one tablespoon of the oil to a large pan on medium to high heat and sautée onions. Stir often and as soon as the onions begin sticking to the pan, add a splash of the separated coconut water to deglaze. The moisture helps the onions to cook faster while also extracting the sugars which creates a caramelized glaze.
Once the onions have softened and become translucent, add the coconut cream and simmer on low heat for a few minutes until reduced and thickened.
Add the crabmeat, basil, white wine, salt and pepper and simmer for a few minutes until the crab has cooked through, turning opaque.
In a small sautée pan, add the remaining tablespoon of oil on high heat. Allow oil to reach the highest temperature before it begins to burn. Add scallops (dried with a paper towel because water+oil=burning splashes) and lower heat slightly. Salt and pepper the scallops. Allow them to sear (without moving them around the pan) for about 2 minutes. Flip over, salt and pepper them and sear for 1 minute.
Tip: Check for doneness by gently pressing on the scallop. If there is a lot of give–the scallop is squishy–it still need to cook slightly longer. When the scallop is done, it should give in a little when pressed but still retain some firmness. If the scallop is firm and springy, it has been cooked too long. Another way to check is to carefully insert a knife and look at the inside. If it is mostly opaque white with a barely distinguishable, but slightly more translucent center, it is done. More translucent means still raw, totally white opaque is overcooked.
Divide coconut crabmeat mixture onto plates and top with seared scallops. Garnish with crab caviar sauce.
Crab Caviar Garnish Recipe
2-3 tablespoons crab egg
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon honey
Combine ingredients in a small bowl and blend thoroughly with a spoon.