For the recipe featured here,which is just the thing in the middle of a heat wave, I have combined my favourite refreshments as a kid and as an adult to create a fun chilled soup,topping it with another decadent treat: fresh Dungeness crab. The trick to getting the recipe right is to ensure that the watermelon and cucumber juice is very cold and the crab meat very fresh.
For some needed richness(otherwise, the soup would be a little thin), I have thrown some avocado into the mix. If you like, you can substitute a few hand-peeled shrimp or ac old shucked oyster for the crab.
Add a splash of tequila and you can also transform the soup into shooters. Just make sure that your bowls or shot glasses are nicely chilled before you serve either to your guests.
Chef Rob Feenie is the food-concept architect at Vancouver’s Cactus Restaurants Ltd.
2 large field cucumbers, peeled and seeded (for juicing)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1½ cups watermelon (for juicing)
1½-inch piece English cucumber, peeled,seeded and diced into ¼-inch pieces
¼ cup watermelon, seeded and diced into ¼-inch pieces
1 thin slice cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and diced into ¼-inch pieces
½ cup Dungeness crab meat or meat from 8 legs
4 teaspoons fresh dill
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 teaspoons dill oil (see recipe below)
¼ avocado, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces (optional)
Freshly cracked white pepper
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
2 cups dill
1 cup grape-seed oil
To make the dill oil, which requires refrigeration overnight, blanch the herbs(they should be very fresh) briefly in boiling water, then shock in ice water to preserve colour and dry thoroughly.
Purée in blender, then add oil until well incorporated. Refrigerate overnight in a stainless steel or glass bowl. Strain the next day through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Herb oils can be refrigerated for up to 2 months in an air-tight container.
To liquify the field cucumbers and 1½cups watermelon, use either a juicer or a strainer. If you’re using a juicer,juice the field cucumbers first, add salt and pour into a container, then clean the juicer, juice the watermelon and pour into a separate container. Place both containers in the refrigerator.
After 10 minutes, any impurities will float to the top; remove them.
If you’re using a strainer, cut field cucumbers into chunks and purée in a food processor or blender until smooth, add salt and transfer puréeto a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl. Press the purée with the back of a spoon to release the juice. Discard remaining purée. Place the 1½ cups watermelon into a clean cheesecloth-lined strainer over a separate bowl and press the juice out.
Discard remaining purée. Cover both juices and refrigerate. Remove any impurities that float to the top.
To make the soup, combine the diced English cucumber, cantaloupe and avocado with the diced watermelon and divide among 4 bowls that have been chilled for at least 10 minutes (it is very important that the bowls be ice-cold to bring out the vibrancy and flavour of the soup). Add crab meat and sprinkle with fresh dill.
Mix the chilled watermelon juice, chilled cucumber juice and lemon juice together. Taste for seasoning: You might need a little salt and more lemon juice. Pour over the diced ingredients. Drizzle with dill oil and sprinkle with freshly cracked white pepper.