This Cold Crab Spaghetti Is Edible Air Conditioning
Pure summertime seafood bliss, courtesy of New Orleans' Toups' Meatery.
Many, many moons ago, when I did things like voluntarily board a plane that would lift me off the surface of the Earth and transport me across the sky at 500 mph across states and countries and oceans, I spent a few blisteringly hot September days in New Orleans. We were staying in the Bywater, a long ways east from the Bayou St. John neighborhood where a restaurant called Toups' Meatery is located. By the time our journey to dinner (which involved two city buses and much trudging under a blazing sun) ended and we pushed through the doors at Toups', we were sure we'd found heaven—or at least its earthly equivalent, abundant air conditioning.
The weather seemed to suggest a menu of cold cucumber jelly, celery sorbet, and maybe an ice cube for dessert. Instead, we entered a carnivorous fugue state and doubled down on the trademark Meatery Board, boudin balls, and lamb necks, with a bacon-scented Doberge cake for dessert. As we stepped outside and our meat sweats mingled with our regular sweats, I regretted nothing. But I can't help but wish that chef Isaac Toups had been offering his cold crab spaghetti that night.
The dish is essentially an extra-refreshing take on pasta salad: Chilled cooked spaghetti tossed with a lemony Dijon-spiked vinaigrette, plus plenty of fresh mint, basil, and parsley and a touch of minced Thai chile. After the pasta is coated in the herby sauce, things get extra luxurious in a distinctly Isaac Toups fashion.
First, you gently toss in about half a pound of cooked jumbo lump crabmeat—an indulgence, to be sure, but when divided among four people, a surprising value compared to the cost of eating the same dish in a restaurant. Along with the crab, add a handful of tangerine orange segments, which add a sweetness to every third bite. After the pasta takes a brief chill in the fridge, it's time for the final dose of edible air conditioning: the salty ocean breezes of a spoonful of trout roe on each plate. Double down on the summer refreshment with a bottle of chilled rosé, and the only sweat you'll see is the condensation on your wine glass.