Monday, December 1, 2014

Crab Feast!

For the last couple of years, my friend and I have gone to Half Moon Beach's Pillar Point Harbor to get crab at the beginning of the season. This year, we called ahead and reserved crab from the Cricket crab boat . As usual, not only did we plan on making crab rolls, but we put together a pumpkin soup too. I couldn't find my original recipes, so I had to create new ones. But with Google's help (and my friend's expert cleaning and cracking skills), we came up with a really, really tasty dinner.

Here's a few helpful hints for making these rolls:
  • Line your crab cleaning station with old towels, newspapers, anything to soak up all the liquid. And there WILL be liquid, even after baking. Personally, I prefer a large bowl or pan. After all, why waste good potential crab stock?
  • To kill your crabs as humanely as possible, I recommend putting them to sleep first. We pack our crabs in ice the moment we get them, and then cook them as soon as we take them out. If ice isn't possible, keep them as cool and wet as you can, and put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes before you cook them.  If you can't freeze them, split the head in half, placing the tip of the knife between the eyes and pushing down hard.
  • If you don't live in New England and you can't get your hands on Pepperidge Farm Top Sliced Hot Dog Buns (often used to make lobster rolls on the East Coast), find a Fuddrucker's and buy some of their hot dog buns (yes, they will sell them to you straight off the cooling rack). They make a darn good substitute.   
  • What do you do if your partner is allergic to crab or other shellfish? Swap out the crab for another meat, like shrimp, fish or chicken, or even surimi, a.k.a. fake crab. (Beef or other red meats may not work as well for this recipe.)  You can also make the sauce as spicy or tame as you wish--my husband's version got an extra dollop of red pepper flakes, as well as some chili sauce.
If anyone is interested, I'll post the pumpkin soup recipe. But however you make it, enjoy!
New England Style Crab Rolls

  • 2 2 lb crabs
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
  •  1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 top-split hot dog buns 
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, put a wire rack on a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet. Set this aside. Place a steamer insert (or a loosely crumpled "snake" of aluminum foil) in the bottom of a large lidded stock pot and add 1 inch of water. Put the lid on the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Open the pot, put the two crabs in as quickly as possible and cover pot. Let steam for exactly two minutes, then transfer to rack set in baking sheet.Bake them for 15-20 minutes.

While the crab is baking, make the crab roll sauce. Combine the mayonnaise, celery seed, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix well. For a bit of spice, add red pepper flakes, sriracha sauce, or even chili sauce. Set aside. 

Once the crabs are cooked, let them cool off enough to handle, pull off the top shell and pull the body apart. Check the meat and be sure it's a solid white, as opposed to translucent--if it's not white, put it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Once you're sure the meat is done, continue the process of  cleaning the crab.

Once the crab is cleaned, combine the meat with the sauce. Set the filling aside.

Put 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium heat. When it starts to foam, place the rolls into the pan on one side. When that side is golden brown (make sure to check every few seconds--it goes fast!) flip it over and do the other side.

Put the toasted buns on a plate and fill them with the crab filling. Stuff your face!

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