Apparently last weekend there was a big shindig cookouts for the higher-ups in my company. Not being a higher-up, or a mid-up, or really facing upward in general, I was not a part of this fete. But when I found out there was leftover crab brought in, I got up and over to the fridge.
How often do I have crab? Probably twice a year, at restaurants I'm lucky enough to accompany someone to. I've only cooked with it once before, a splurge of crab cakes Matt and I cooked up when we were still living in Hillsboro during the latter Bush years. The recipe was a little bready, and I couldn't get a great sear with the Target-issue electric skillet we used for almost every meal. But for free, I'm always willing to try again.
I concocted my meal plan while talking to Lisa, who was also snagging a gallon Ziploc worth of loot. "What can I do with it?" she wanted to know.
"You could treat it like tuna fish," I said, drawing from the sweltering weather that made stoves and electric skillets vastly unappealing, and trying to verbally pass on a recipe without being overly complicated. "A little mayo and lemon juice on a hot dog roll. That's how they eat it in Maine." Actually it's how they eat lobster, and it's only because of a distant Cooking Light magazine that I know that. But who's counting?
"I've got hamburger buns," she said, "this'll be great!"
I think, if I could come home from work every day and smash crustaceans with a meat tenderizer, I could probably ditch the Prozac. Smash! Crack! Tear! Your reward? Nuggets of precious sea-fed flesh, ready to pop into the bowl or right into your mouth. Matt came by to try his hand at it, but he can never get a carcass as clean as I can. I know all the nooks and crannies on a Costco rotisserie chicken, like those little oysters on the back near the thighs. I lick my rib racks down to the marrow, shaking my head at his pile of wasted delicious opportunity.
Fresh crab is such a contradiction. Light, yet rich. Flavorful, but impressionable. Sweet with a kick of salt. Overflowing from one claw, absent from the next. It's so different from any of the usual protein subjects: beef (ground), chicken (breasts), pork (chops). It even eclipses the "exotics": steak, salmon, the rare shrimp, experimentation with tofu, a sinful meal highlighting the virtues of bacon.
Sandwich Sprinkle, and a good shake of Tabasco sauce. Spread on a pedestrian hamburger bun, it induced a fit of eye-rolling and moans. Simple, but sinful. Those clawful creatures are just full of surprises.