Spicy, boiled seafood in a bag.
It’s a delicacy in certain parts of Louisiana, a fiery mix of crustaceans (usually crawfish and shrimp) corn and potatoes that arrive at the table packed in a plastic bag. Diners are equipped with bibs and plastic gloves. The only rules: Open the bag and eat with your hands. Dumping the food on the table is optional.
The cooking style recently found a home in Oceanside at Ben’s Crab, a seafood-centric restaurant where seafood boils are the highlight with options that include crab legs, shrimp, lobster and crawfish.
The two-story, 120-seat space (formerly the Asian fusion restaurant Unique) is owned by Nico Falindeho and Linna Tanuhardja, a couple from Indonesia who fell in love with the dish during a visit to Louisiana shortly after emigrating to America.
“I’m addicted to it,” said Tanuhardja, who owned a catering company in Indonesia. “The way they put it in the bag it’s unusual for me.”
She was taken by how spice and garlic fused so well with seafood and vegetables and began experimenting with recipes at home. At Ben’s Crab, she has added her own twists to the boils, incorporating Asian flavors such as Thai chili peppers and appetizers and sides such as garlic noodles ($7) and papaya-mango salad $8).
The seafood boil menu at Ben’s comes with options. First, pick your seafood: lobster ($25 a pound), crawfish ($13 a pound), Dungeness crab ($35 a pound), king crab legs ($35 a pound), snow crab legs ($18 a pound), head-on shrimp ($13 a pound), clams ($12), or combinations thereof. Then pick one of five sauce options: no sauce, garlic butter, Old Bay, lemon pepper or a special Cajun blend.
Finally, choose a level of heat. Options range from no spice to “fire,” which includes a mix of Thai chilies, red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper.
The boil is made to order and secured in a plastic bag before it’s delivered to the table. Plates and utensils are available for those squeamish about eating off the table with their hands.
Ben’s Crab, 3451 Long Beach Rd., Oceanside; 516-665-9912, benscrab.com