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This sublime, rich assembled salad originated in the early 1900s on the West Coast of the United States. The originator of the salad is lost to history. San Francisco's St. Francis Hotel is mentioned by some sources, as is Solari's Restaurant in San Francisco. Another source says that Seattle's Olympia Club first offered this dish. A chef from the St. Francis included a recipe for it in a 1919 publication entitled "The St. Francis Hotel Cook Book."

The dish was designed to showcase the Northwest's famous Dungeness Crab. It soon became a ubiquitous appetizer/salad item on menus all over the country. The alternative spelling of the dish, "Crab Louie" is also how the name of the dish is pronounced.

The popularity of the dish lasted until the 1960s, when it slipped out of fashion on restaurant menus. One of famed chef James Beard's favorites, the salad is re-created by crab lovers to this day. Beside crab, jumbo shrimp or lobster may be used.
 

For the dressing:

1 cup Mayonnaise

3 Tbs. Heinz Chili Sauce

1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce

2 tsp. fresh Lemon Juice

scant tsp. of sugar

1 tsp. Colman's Dry Mustard

1 tsp. finely minced Shallots

2 Tbs. finely chopped Pimiento-stuffed Green Olives

1 Tbs. finely chopped Cocktail Onions

Combine all the above ingredients and allow to sit for at least an hour, or better, overnight, before using.
 

For the salad:

1 lb. lump crab meat (and whole claws, if you're using fresh crab), picked over for bits of shell

or

1 lb. cooked, chilled jumbo shrimp

or

1 lb. cooked, chilled lobster meat, in coarse chunks

Bibb lettuce leaves, washed and spun dry (enough to line each diner's plate) or shredded iceberg lettuce

4-6 boiled eggs, quartered into wedges

Red, ripe tomato wedges (four to a plate)

Lemon wedges to garnish

Capers to garnish
 

Assemble the salads:

It's up to you how many people you want to feed with a pound of cooked seafood. This recipe makes four large or six small appetizers, or three luncheon salads.

Moisten the seafood by tossing it with a few tablespoons of the dressing in a bowl. Set aside.

Line each plate with lettuce. Arrange four boiled egg wedges and four tomato wedges around the edges of the plates. Portion the moistened seafood mixture out into the center of each plate. Garnish with the lemon wedges and the capers.

Serve the dressing on the side.
 

Alternatives

The salad becomes more luxurious if you seed and dice the tomatoes in 1/8" dice, and push the boiled eggs through a sieve or otherwise chop them finely. Surround the crab mixture with these items and top with the capers.

A poor-man's Crab Louis can be made with imitation crabmeat and Thousand Island Dressing. Garnish with the boiled egg and tomato.

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