Tonight, I’m making crab for dinner. But not just any crab. I’m making the best crab that you have ever tasted in your life!
I am extremely fortunate to come from the land that makes the best crab in the world—San Francisco. A leisurely stroll down Fisherman’s Wharf on a bright and breezy day, the exuberance of tourists and children bustling about, the sounds of sea lions frolicking in the bay, and of course the mesmerizing fragrance of seafood that envelops the senses. Is it just a rhapsody or am I right? Am I really only steps away from a culinary extravaganza?
Any of many restaurants will do. All the seafood is great, but the garlic roasted crab—out of this world! Each restaurant has its own secret crab sauce, and none of them will ever share. But guess what? I’ve got secrets too. It certainly helps to be a San Francisco Bay Area native with a penchant for the culinary arts.
There are three key secrets to making great crab: great ingredients, great tools and equipment, and simplicity. Just like there are three key secrets to leading a winning organization: great people, great technology & systems, and simplicity.
The dish simply won’t work without the best ingredients. I buy my crab at Lunardi’s, an upscale store in the area. If I can’t make it to Lunardi’s for some reason, I go to Whole Foods. Nothing less. If I try to use the the crab at my local grocery store, which I’ve done, the whole meal will be a bust. I never try to “fix” average crab and leaders shouldn’t waste time trying to force someone to do a job that they are not suited to do.
Another trick for making great crab is very high heat. I bake my crab at 550 degrees. Which means, I need heavy-duty equipment that handles extremely high temperatures. I use a 9-quart Le Creuset Dutch Oven that can handle 1000 degrees without a blemish. Once the best people are on your team, they must be fitted with the best tools, technology, and equipment.
And finally, like many things in life, simplicity is golden. I have tried to get “fancy” with this recipe many times by adding and tweaking and adding again—it doesn’t work. The elusive secret to great crab sauce has more to do with what you keep out than what you put in. And that’s the way it is with organizations. Nine times out of ten, when I’m called in to redesign an organization, I end up simplifying it by delayering and rebalancing the spans. When I can’t keep it simple, I make it simple.
Well, it’s getting late, and if this dinner is going to happen, I need to get to Lunardi’s soon. It’s going to be a great night! And by the way, if you are interested in the rest of my secrets for making great crab, check out my recipe for San Francisco Garlicky Roasted Crab.