Chef Erik Olson of the Sun Valley Club doesn’t really go in for exact measurements. Rather, his cooking is done to taste and his taste tends toward the flavors of southwestern cuisine. As a child growing up in Arizona, he grew heirloom tomatoes and peppers as a hobby and cilantro is his favorite herb. He loves to eat light, commenting, “When it was 118 degrees out, we all wanted food that was anything but heavy.”
But his culinary training and experiences broadened his horizons and while he still loves the flavors of his childhood, his palate embraces endless kinds of food. At Sun Valley Resort, he spent one season at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge and one year catering in the Sun Valley Inn kitchen before assuming the mantle at the Sun Valley Club and bringing his point-of-view to the restaurant’s kitchen.
For the summer, Chef Olson created an incredibly fresh, surprisingly hearty and just right spicy crab gazpacho for the menu. The presentation is beautiful, with just picked colorful vegetables and a generous portion of crab meat creating a tower in the middle of a tangy tomato broth. It is just the right combination of cool flavors for a hot summer day.
Chef Olson has shared his recipe with readers of the Valley Sun as part of our Recipe from the Resort series. You will certainly enjoy this dish at home on the deck, accompanied by a nice dry white wine. Or come to the Sun Valley Club and let Chef Olson do the chopping for you, as you luxuriate on the restaurant’s beautiful large patio that overlooks the golf course, Dollar Mountain and Baldy.
Note: Chef Olson is a big fan using the technique called a brunoise — a very fine 1/8” dice. But if your knife skills aren’t up to the task, no worries. Your gazpacho may not look as pretty as his, but it will taste just as good.
Clubhouse Crab Gazpacho
2½ or 3 ounces of shredded King Crab or Dungeness crab (you can take the meat from crab legs or buy it fresh in lump form. In a pinch even good quality canned crab will do).
Brunoise dice of fresh:
Red bell pepper
Zucchini, no seeds, only the skin and flesh
Tomatoes, flesh and skin only, no seeds
Enough of each to fill a small ramekin
For the broth:
About three cups of prepared tomato juice
½ cup fresh lime juice
1 to 1½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce, depending on how much heat you like
1 to 1½ tsp red wine vinaigrette
1 Tbl. sugar
A few dashes of Tabasco sauce, again, according to taste
½ tsp. fresh chopped jalapeno
Fresh cilantro and basil
Green onions, cut on a bias and placed in ice water to curl
In a bowl, stir the chives and cilantro into the tomato juice.
In a small bowl, pack in diced vegetables until they take the round shape.
Tip the vegetables into the center of a shallow soup bowl.
Carefully pour the broth around the vegetables.
Shape crab meat into a small ball using your hands.
Place the crab ball carefully on top of the vegetables, creating a small ‘tower.’
Sprinkle curled green onion on top of crab meat as a garnish.
Be sure to come to the Clubhouse to sample and enjoy the rest of Chef Olson’s summertime creations. These include: a heirloom tomato salad with a white balsamic reduction, fresh burrata and arugula tossed with pesto and pine nuts; grilled sockeye salmon served with haricots verts, yellow and purple wax beans, fennel and red onion, and for dessert, new cookie sundaes and a decadent strawberry amaretto sundae.
The Clubhouse is now also offering duck tacos. These fabulous tacos are available on the patio Mondays and Mondays only from 4 – 7 p.m. Following a round on the links, a bike ride or whatever your active Sun Valley day offered, enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail from the full bar and dig into as many duck tacos as you like, priced at $5 apiece.
The Sun Valley Club offers one of the most pleasant dining rooms and patios in the Wood River Valley. Be sure next time you are making lunch plans to include this beautiful spot.