Friday, September 18, 2009

Crab Cake Sandwiches

I could never live outside of a temperate zone. I adore each season with passion when it arrives, and despise it from the depths of my soul by the time it departs. By the end of winter I'm so desperate to pack away the sweaters and put on a flowing skirt that I have been known to just wear them in March in an attempt to change the seasons by sheer force of wardrobe. It hasn't worked, and has resulted in some cold ankles. For the record, I've also tried doing ritualistic tribal dances, selling my soul to Satan, and--in a fit of desperation--frowning at clouds until they go away. I'm usually completely done with summer by early August. It's hot, it's humid, and this past summer it was usually raining. About five minutes into September I was eying my fall outfits and dreaming of apple cider, pumpkin muffins, and lovely fall roasts. Unfortunately it was still 85 degrees outside.

The past few weeks have seen the thermometer bounce up and down, and as I eyed the forecast for the perfect day to bust out my cute brown knee high boots, I became vaguely aware then when we hit 80 degrees on Tuesday it would probably be the last warm day of 2009. Flowing skirt on, I went to Chelsea Market, an indoor gourmet food plaza on 16th Street and 9th Ave to hunt down the ingredients for one last summery dish. It's a Mecca of wonderful (if occasionally overpriced) ingredients, and it has a huge customer as an upstairs neighbor, namely, the Food Network.

One thing I'm not thrilled with in NY is the lack of fish places that will sell you a hard shell crab. You can find the soft ones in the late spring and early summer, but an honest to god hard shelled blue crab eludes me. I bet it could be found in Chinatown, but I've still got enough suburbanite in me to be a little wary of the fish in Chinatown. Most of my non Tilapia or Catfish seafood comes from the Lobster Place. I've gotten decent prices there, depending on what I've been shopping for, and during the lobster glut last year they were one of the most affordable. While full crabs eluded me I found some excellent hand picked crab meat and I knew what my summer send off would be. If I couldn't indulge in the carnal tradition that is ripping a crab apart with my bare hands, I would go the more classy and upscale route, crab cakes. As I exited the Lobster Place I saw Amy's Bread, and my idea developed further, a few really nice rolls and I would have crab cake sandwiches. Wandering further down the market I spotted Chelsea Wine Vault, and what's a good seafood dinner without a chilled white? My mother might disown me...and I like having a mother. A proper meal now planned, I headed home.

My recipe is adapted from one I found in an issue of Gourmet from last summer, brilliant in its simplicity and phenomenally quick to throw together. My deviations from the original recipe are as follows. The recipe originally called for only 2 tbs of beaten egg, but following the advice of the commenters on the website I modified it to include a whole egg. I always keep a loaf of Whole Foods' Organic Italian Bread in my refrigerator. In NY it's a steal at $2.50 and I slice it up all week long for toast, sandwiches, and bread alongside meals. It keeps beautifully; it's one of my kitchen staples. This was more then up to the task of filling in the cakes, as long as I removed the harder top crust. A confession, the recipe calls for Jumbo Lump Crabmeat, which I have left in as it probably is best, but it was nearly $15 to the regular Lump Crabmeat's $9. To be honest, it worked just fine. Just as I was about to throw the patties in the pan, I remembered the several packets of Old Bay I took home from a work conference in Baltimore, just sitting in my cabinet waiting for some use. A little sprinkle brought some heat to the meal, and made it more reminiscent of the full crab dinner I had initially dreamed of.

Crab Cake Sandwiches

2 slices firm white sandwich bread
1/2 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over
2 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
Old Bay to taste
2 Sandwich rolls
Lemon wedges

Tear bread into small pieces into a bowl with crab. Add mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, egg, and a pinch of salt. Mix together gently but thoroughly, then form into 2 patties. If you like, sprinkle patties with Old Bay.
Heat butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook crab cakes, turning once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes total.
Toast rolls, place crab cakes on, enjoy with a glass of wine!

See? Easy as pie! (Note: Pie is much more difficult than this colloquialism would have you believe. I've yet to successfully pull off a homemade pie crust.) Will, a hardliner in the fight against mayo, ate his with enthusiasm and then declared that he would like to eat about eight more. That's when I felt the need to build a napkin fort around what was left of my own sandwich. He was right though, the 2 tbs do work well in the cakes, but don't leave it tasting like a mayo burger as some crab cake recipes have been known to do. It was a great way to send off a season, that, if I had it my way, would be spent largely sitting on docks and eating seafood. Now that I'm looking at a forecast full of weather in the 60's and 70's, maybe a pork roast with apples… or mushroom soup… or a pumpkin pie. Maybe I'll even make the crust myself.

1 comment:

clare said...

i'm doing pumpkin pie tonight! with a store-bought crust, since pie crust is my nemesis. the best i've found used vodka instead of ice water because you can use more since the ethenol cooks off and doesn't form gluten. and several people have suggested something called "never-fail pie crust" but it has eggs and vinegar and thus is not a real pie crust.

Post a Comment