Today there are as many versions of this famous Crab Louie Salad as there are cooks. Along with the tradition of seafood in many households, Crab Louis is among one of the favorite Christmas Eve meals
To people of the west coast, the ingredients to make Crab Louie Salad are very simple and exact: crisp iceberg lettuce, generous serving of fresh Dungeness crabmeat, fresh tomato, and hard-cooked egg wedges with Crab Louie Dressing.
Crab Louie Salad or Crab Louis Salad – Both spellings of the salad are used on restaurant menus, but it is usually pronounced “LOO-ey”. This famous west coast salad is also called “King of Salads,” and is sometimes written as Crab Louis Salad.
Check out more delicious Salads and Salad Dressing Recipes.
History of Crab Louie Salad:
Credit for the origin of Crab Louie Salad depends on who you talk to and which state of the West Coast you are in. Most historians agree that the salad began appearing on menus of finer West Coast establishments between the turn of the 20th century and World War I. Other historians suggest that the salad was named after King Louis XIV who was known for his enormous amounts of food he could eat. After his death, it is said than an autopsy was carried out and it revealed that his stomach was twice the size of that of ordinary men. You be the judge of this!
1904 – Some credit the origin of Crab Louis Salad to the chef at Seattle’s Olympic Club in Washington. In 1904, when the Metropolitan Opera Company played in Seattle, Washington, Enrico Caruso (1873-1921), considered the world’s greatest tenor, kept ordering the salad until none was left in the restaurant’s kitchen.
1910 – It is also said the salad was created in San Francisco by either the chef at Solari’s Restaurant. Helen Evans Brown, in her cookbook West Coast Cook Book, states the following on the history:
Just which Louis invented this West Coast specialty I am not prepared to say, but only because I don’t know. I do know, however, that it was served at Solari’s, in San Francisco, in 1914, for Clarence Edwords gives their recipe for it in his epicure’s guide, Bohemian San Franciso.
1914 – The Davenport Hotel in Spokane, WA claims that the original founder and owner, Louis Davenport, created this dish for the hotel restaurant. The salad is still on their menu today. Lewellyn “Louis” Davenport came to Spokane Falls, Washington Territory, in the Spring of 1889 at the age of 20 from San Francisco, CA.
1917 – James Beard (1903-1985), a native of Portland, Oregon spoke highly of the Crab Louis. Evan Jones, in his book Epicurean Delight: The Life and Times of James Beard says:
Most probably, in those years his mother would take her son to restaurants that served food aimed at pleasing the average Oregon palate. One of these was the Bohemian, a commendable dining place that Beard remembered particularly for a dish called Crab Louis, Writing about this chili-tinged way of serving Dungeness crab, he wanted to believe it had been first served at the Bohemian and later he sparred with his friend, Helen Evans Brown, who credited San Francisco’s Solari Restaurant for its origin.
1919 – Famed chef, Victor Hirtzler, is said to have included a recipe for the salad in The Hotel St. Francis Cookbook, originally published in 1919.
1950s – The Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California is noted as making the salad famous. Dungeness crab is considered the symbol of the San Francisco fishing industry with sidewalk vendors selling fresh-boiled crab during the winter months.
Crab Louie Salad – Crab Louis Salad Recipe:
It is almost impossible to give the exact ingredient amounts for this salad. It is just usually made with the following ingredients to the amounts needed for the number of people you are serving. For most of us, the more Dungeness crabmeat on the salad, the better!