Sunni Liston is all the evidence I need that the world is still good. Yes, that is her real name, and yes, she is very sunny. Sunni is the proprietress of Dogpatch, a magical service that cares for dogs during the day, but is so much more than doggie day care. 3 days a week, Sunni roams through Portland in her Woof 1, a white Sprinter, and whisks lucky dogs away to her dog resort out in Clackamas. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, she is parked outside of work in the mornings and evenings for pick up of and drop off. And there is nothing more satisfying than kind of fatigue that comes from a day at the Dogpatch.
There are lots and lots and lots of things I love about Sunni. If she were to take a crazy young pointer and just bring him back tired, it would be enough. But she picks him up at home so that I don't have to drive into work, she takes pictures of him and posts them to facebook (tagged as me), she brags that he's the fastest dog at the resort and I suspect she gives superlative reviews to all her clients because we need it. Everything she does for our darling dogs is above and beyond the daily fee for admission. But in the last few weeks, Sunni and her husband Rick have trumped even themselves: they've started leaving salmon and crab in my fridge for no apparent reason.
The Listons have a home in Pacific city and it seems that Rick has himself a little dory boat and some crab traps. I have no idea how the mechanics of either of these work. All I know is that one day there were cooked and cleaned dungeness crab in my refrigerator. A few days later, there was more crab, and a 5lb King Salmon. Tonight, another 2 crab.
Apparently cooking at home has its rewards. "Everytime I drop Victor off there's some delicious smell coming out of your house, so I knew you'd appreciate fresh seafood" said Sunni, after I promised her I would never freeze any of the bounty she brought me. Despite my zeal for putting up for winter, I am happy to oblige and see no point in freezing what's by far better fresh.
So, when one comes into pounds of FREE, FRESH Dungeness Crab and King Salmon, what does one do?
1) pick apart a crab and eat over sink.
2) pick apart another crab and make a Vietnamese Crab Slaw
3) share bounty of crab with friends, butter.
4) have a good friend, who happens to be an excellent cook AND expert on all things salmon, barbeque to rare perfection.
5) turn leftovers from said perfectly barbequed fish into salmon cakes punctuated with capers and tarragon, but not too much of either.
6) Do not feel like you're obligated to go crazy with your crab or eat only with monastic accompaniment. Returning to the Vietnamese theme, improvise a rice noodle stir fry using the remnants of your CSA for the week:
Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Leek and Crab
1 oz rice noodle, medium width.
1/2 leek, sliced thin on the bias
1 Aneheim chili or frying pepper, seeded, sliced thin on the bias.
1 dungeness crab, cleaned and picked (about 2/3 c. crabmeat)
2 T fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp soy sauce
(optional, or, use if you have: scallions, serrano chilies, garlic...)
mix the fish sauce, lime and soy sauce and set aside. Cook rice noodles for about 3 min. under a rolling boil, shock with cold water. Drain when cool. Heat oil in a wok. When sufficiently hot, add leeks. Saute for about 20 seconds, then add the pepper (or hotter chiles). Do not let brown. Add noodles and crab in close succession, after about 30 seconds of stir frying then add the liquid. Continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed in the noodles, take off heat and toss with more cilantro, and scallions if you have them. Season with more lime, fish sauce or chili sauce, but careful not to lose sight of the fact that the crab is a very special guest and deserves lots of attention. Remember that a gifted crab is a rare treasure to be enjoyed any way but previously frozen or with too much fuss.