One of the first things that popped up in my head was the Thai dish Crabs with Special Sauce. I have only found this particular dish in one Thai restaurant called Jaiya in New York. The restaurant used to be located in Elmhurst Queens, my parents, my sister and I were introduced to this Thai restaurant 30 years ago by my parents French friend Elizabeth. She happened upon it one evening and had this incredible crab dish called very simply Crab with Special Sauce. The first time that we as a family tried it, we were hooked. The marriage of flavors between the crab and the sauce is incredible, the flavors themselves become so harmonious that you don’t quite know where the crab flavor begins and where the garlic or the tamarind paste come in. There were other dishes that we loved as well, my father’s particularly enjoyed their appetizer called Naked Shrimp. The shrimp was sautéed and served with a spicy citrus vinaigrette over a salad of greens, my father ordered it so often that he was able to replicate the dish at home. My father was very talented in the kitchen as well, we were lucky because normally my father was able to recreate any dish that he had enjoyed elsewhere except for one. You have probably guessed the one that eluded him. He could not quite figure out the components of the Special Sauce. We knew what type of crabs to get, female blue crabs which were not hard to find, that was the easy part. The flavor components were so well intertwined which was the beauty of the dish as well as the frustration.
So why do I miss it so? Jaiya closed its doors in Elmhurst 9 years ago. They still have a restaurant under the same name in New York City but that restaurant does not carry Crab with Special Sauce and I don’t know why and it is not for lack of asking. But after asking for the 100th time, I have resigned myself to simply enjoy their other dishes and mourn the loss of my Crabs with Special Sauce in silence.