Building a dish from the bottom up
The dish is called Soft Shell Crab Taco, but really it's chef David Lukela's take on shrimp and grits, minus the shrimp, adding crab, minus a taco shell but adding some taco-ness. And mango-ness.
The dish is among mango-centric dishes and drinks on the menu in July — Mango Month — at Beachhouse at the Moana, where Lukela is chef de cuisine. The Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa is also prepping for Mangoes at the Moana, a festival of all things mango on July 16.
As a preview, Lukela built his "taco" dish and explained why all the components work.
At the bottom, cheesy grits, because he loves them so.
Next: Two deep-fried soft-shell crabs, a stand-in for the usual shrimp, with a crunchiness that stands in for a taco shell.
Next: A drizzle of mango fraiche — mango puree stirred into creme fraiche — to add creamy richness.
Next: Pickled fresh mango cubes (he uses a simple mix of vinegar, sugar and water) and avocado. The pickling adds acidity to balance the mango's sweetness, the avocado adds "good fat" to balance the acidity.
Next: Cabbage and green onion, shredded, for a taco touch.
Finally: Cilantro and thin slices of watermelon radish — more "taco elements."
See Crave on Wednesday for more from the Moana and Lukela's ideas on using mangoes in savory dishes.