While Mary Richter was the chef at Cities restaurant in Adams Morgan, she came up with this novel BLT, whose robust flavor is accented by basil. She subsequently opened Zuki Moon in the space that became Nectar and is now Notti Bianche.
- 1/2 cup loosely packed basil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup mild-tasting olive oil
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 4 soft-shell crabs cleaned and dressed
- 8 slices country bread, grilled and toasted
- 2 cups arugula or watercress
- 2 beefsteak or yellow tomatoes, sliced
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 8 slices applewood smoked bacon, fried crisp
In a blender or food processor, puree the basil, garlic and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Without cleaning the blender or food processor, add the egg yolks, lemon juice and salt and process for 30 seconds. With the machine running, slowly and alternately add the remaining oil and the basil oil mixture. The mayonnaise should thicken quickly. Add more salt or lemon juice to taste. (If the aioli is too thick, add a tablespoon of cold water to achieve desired consistency.) Transfer to a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate.
When ready to cook, prepare the grill. If using a gas grill, preheat the grill to medium. If using a charcoal grill, start the charcoal or wood briquettes. When the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area for direct heat. Oil the grate. Grill the crabs, top side down, for about 2 minutes. Turn over and grill 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, spread the aioli on the grilled or toasted bread. Arrange the arugula or watercress on half of the slices and top with the tomatoes, onion and bacon. Place a grilled crab on each sandwich and top with the remaining bread. Serve immediately, with more aioli on the side.
Adapted from Mary Richter of Surdyk's Market in Minneapolis.
Tested by Leigh Lambert.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.