Cooking From Memory ~ A Recipe Journal

Frutas del Mar

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Years ago, I spent some time cooking at Pablo’s Especial, a Spanish restaurant at the foot of Queen Anne Hill in Seattle.  The style of food at Pablo’s was what the owner called “Sonoran” named for the area in Mexico whose shores are washed by the Sea of Cortez in the Gulf of California which is connected to the Pacific Ocean further south.  The food we served at Pablo’s creatively combined seafood and what we would call traditional Mexican.  Among the favorites at Pablo’s were crab enchiladas and seafood burritos.  I learned to make a lot of spicy, tasty things with scallops, shrimp, crab legs and spanish rice.

But my favorite, the ‘Fruitas del Mar’ was simply spectacular.  A pineapple was sliced lengthwise, leaves oiled to bring out their brilliant green.  A bowl was created by removing some of the pineapple and then filled with spanish rice, then topped with sautéed scallops. Freshly steamed Dungeness crab legs were placed lengthwise along the top of the pineapple and then the sautéed shrimp was ‘hooked’ over the crab legs.  The whole piece of art was then quick-steamed and presented at the table much to the amazement of—well, just about everyone.

Let’s give this a try…

Ingredients ~

  • 1 pineapple, per two people
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Scallops, 8-12 per person
  • Shrimp, 8-12 per person
  • crab legs, steamed, two per person
  • ½ cup Half & Half
  • ½ cup white wine
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Green onions, chopped

Method ~

After rinsing the pineapple well, cut the pineapple in half, lengthwise, retaining the prickly green leaves.  Hollow out the pineapple–down to about ¼ inch to create a ‘bowl’ reserving the pineapple pieces.  Set aside.

Cook the Spanish Rice as per box directions.

Prepare the crab legs as per your favorite cooking method explained below.

In a saute’ pan, saute’ garlic and onions until tender, 3-4 minutes over medium heat.

Add the shrimp and saute’ until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Add the scallops to the shrimp, garlic and onions and saute’ 2 minutes more.  Add the chopped pineapple, the wine and the Half & Half.  Season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste.

Arranging the Platter:

Arrange the pineapple on a platter (you may want to take a thin slice off the bottom of the pineapple to it will sit on a serving plate without rocking). Fill the ‘bowl’ with the spanish rice and arrange the scallops on the rice.  Place the two crab legs on top of the pineapple, lengthwise, then ‘hook’ the shrimp over the crab legs. Liberally drizzle the remaining liquid from the saute pan over the top.

Garnish with the green onions.

To steam crab legs

  1. Pour 2 cups of water in a steamer or a large pot, add 1 tablespoon of salt and bring to the boil.
  2. Add the crab legs, placing them onto a rack in the bottom of the pan or into the steaming basket.
  3. As the water starts to boil again, begin timing.
  4. Steam the crab legs for between 5 – 7 minutes, until you can begin to smell their aroma and until they are warm. Take care not to overcook the legs as they have already been cooked once.
  5. Remove from the heat.

To boil crab legs

  1. Half fill a large saucepan with cold water and add a tablespoon of sea salt seasoning if you wish.
  2. Bring the water to the boil and then drop the crab legs in.
  3. Reduce the heat slightly and allow the crab legs to simmer and heat up for 5 – 7 minutes.
  4. Remove from the water and rinse the crab legs.

To bake crab legs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Crack the whole crab legs and place them on a baking tray.
  3. Brush the crab legs with butter or oil, seasoning and lemon juice and bake in the oven for 8-9 minutes.

To microwave crab legs

  1. Wrap the crab legs in a damp paper towel and cook on high for 2 – 3 minutes.

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