|Home -> Paul Elder - > Bohemian San Francisco -> King of Shell Fish|
King of Shell Fish
One has to come to San Francisco to partake of the king of shell fish - the mammoth Pacific crab. I say "come to San Francisco" advisedly, for while the crab is found all along the coast it is prepared nowhere so deliciously as in San Francisco. Of course our friends in Portland will take exception to this, but the fact remains that nowhere except in San Francisco have so many restaurants become famous because of the way they prepare the crab. The Pacific crab is peculiar, and while it has not the gigantic claws such as are to be seen on those in the Parisian and London markets, its meat is much more delicate in flavor, and the dishes of crab prepared by artists of the gastronomic profession in San Francisco are more savory than those found elsewhere.
In the pre-fire days there were many places which paid especial attention to the cooking of the crab, among them being the Cobweb Palace, previously mentioned, and Gobey's. Gobey ran one of those places which was not in good repute, consequently when ladies went there they were usually veiled and slipped in through an alley, but the enticement of Gobey's crab stew was too much for conventionality and his little private rooms were always full.
Gobey's passed with the fire, and the little restaurant bearing his name, and in charge of his widow, in Union Square avenue, has not attained the fame of the old place. It is possible that she knows the secret of preparing crab as it was prepared in the Gobey's of before the fire, but his prestige did not descend to her.
Almost all of the Italian restaurants will give you crab in many forms, and all of them are good; many restaurants use crab meat for flavoring other, dishes, but of all the recipes for cooking crab we have found none that we consider so good as that of Gobey's. It is as follows:
Gobey's Crab Stew
Take the meat of one large crab, scraping out all of the fat from the shell. One good-sized onion, one tomato, one sweet pepper, one teaspoonful of butter, one teaspoonful of flour, half a glass of sherry, a pinch of rosemary, one clove of garlic, paprika, salt and minionette pepper. Soak the crab meat in the sherry two hours before cooking. Chop fine the onion, sweet pepper and tomato with the rosemary. Mash the clove of garlic, rubbing thoroughly in a mortar and on this put the butter and flour, mixing well together, and gradually adding the salt and minionette pepper, and stir in two tablespoonfuls of cream. Heat this in a stewpan and when simmering add the sherry and crab meat and let all cook together with a slow fire for eight minutes. Serve in a chafing dish with toasted crackers or thin slices of toasted bread. A dash of Worcestershire sauce just before it is taken up adds to the flavor.