3 qts. water
1 Tbs. + 1½ tsp. coarse kosher salt
8 medium stalks asparagus, tough stems trimmed
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and green parts (from about
2 green onions), plus more for garnish
1/4 cup small dice red bell pepper (from about 1/4 of a pepper)
1/4 cup small dice fennel (from about
1/4 of a medium bulb)
1 Tbs. finely grated fresh turmeric or 2 tsp. dried turmeric
1 small Thai chile or 1/2 Fresno chile, thinly sliced
3 oz. shiitake mushrooms, lightly brushed, stems removed, and caps thinly sliced
4 cups cooked Carolina Gold rice middlins, cold or at room temperature (from 2 cups uncooked)
1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
1 lb. jumbo lump blue crab meat, gently picked carefully for shell
Toasted benne seeds, for garnish
Dry Aleppo pepper, available online and at some grocery stores, for garnish
For the Lemony Mayonnaise:
1/3 cup mayonnaise, Blue Plate or Hellmann’s preferred
1/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Tabasco, or to taste
2 tsp. minced chives
Pinch coarse kosher salt
Make an ice bath of equal parts ice and water in a large bowl.
Bring the three quarts of water to a boil in a large Dutch oven and season with one tablespoon salt. Add the asparagus and cook for two to three minutes, until tender but not soft. Immediately transfer the asparagus to the ice bath. Once cool, drain, pat dry, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch coins. Reserve.
Discard the blanching water and wipe the Dutch oven clean. Return it to the stove over medium heat and add the butter and olive oil. When butter has melted, add the ginger, green onions, red pepper, fennel, and turmeric. Stir in the 1½ teaspoons of salt. Cook the vegetables over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about five minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft, another three to five minutes.
Stir in the cooked rice and thyme leaves and increase the heat to medium. Cover and cook for five to seven minutes. Listen for the rice to sizzle, opening the lid to stir it two or three times. Once the rice and vegetables are hot and well-incorporated, remove the lid and fold in the asparagus and crab meat. Cook for another one to two minutes, just until warmed through.
Transfer the crab rice to serving bowls and garnish with toasted benne seeds, thinly sliced scallions, and Aleppo pepper. Serve immediately with lemony mayonnaise on the side to dollop or drizzle on the rice.
For the Lemony Mayonnaise:
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir together. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Cover and refrigerate for up to two days.
Chef’s Notes: “Our house rice is Carolina Gold rice ‘middlins’ from Anson Mills or Marsh Hen Mills. We love its texture and aromatic flavor. If you can’t find middlins, this recipe will work with any white or brown rice variety.”