BUMPER TO BUMPER Fish Salad was born of necessity in the tiny kitchen of a Winnebago stalled in traffic. It was strictly improvisational and may never be created again in quite the same manner, but it saved the day.
But let me give you some background notes. It had been a typical weekend at the beach; we had indulged in more sun and sand than our bodies could take and more steamed crab and fresh fish than anyone has a right to eat. Typical weekenders, we had taken along plenty of beer and wine to ward off dehydration and a huge pot for cooking the crabs. One of the local fisherman had sold us dozens of very lively crabs and a huge fillet from a fish he called "cobia." The kitchen of the trailer had been well used that weekend, and on Sunday nothing much remained but leftover cooked fish and two steamed crabs.
The trip home started off well enough. One person was driving, four were playing cards and the four kids were reading comic books. But all too soon we reached the inevitable traffic jam. Some 50 miles from home we were inching along. The air conditioner had to be turned off, and soon hunger pangs added another dimension to the pain of waiting in the heat.
Alert to growing signs of rebellion, I searched the refrigerator and cabinets. No one expressed an interest in cold fish for dinner, and two cold crabs would not feed the multitude. However, when they were put on the table as fish salad, it was most satisfying and possibly even appreciated.
Here is my best recollection of what went into that salad. The fish was especially good, having that sweet taste reminiscent of lobster. But like any improvisation, this salad is meant to take advantage of what you have. You don't even need to serve it in a Winnebago. BUMPER TO BUMPER FISH SALAD (8 servings) 1 1/2 to 2 pounds cooked fish 2 cooked crabs, picked 1 small sweet onion, minced 1 cucumber peeled, seeded and diced 2 stalks celery, diced 1 cup mayonnaise Zest and juice of 1 lemon 2 teaspoons seafood seasoning (such as Old Bay) 1 head leaf lettuce, for garnish 3 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges for garnish
Use a fork to flake the fish. Remove any bones. Place the fish in a large bowl with the picked crab, minced onion, cucumber and celery. Toss well. In a smaller bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the lemon zest and juice and seafood seasoning. Add to the fish plates lined with a lettuce leaf and garnish with tomatoe wedges.