Saturday, August 21, 2010


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. 

After I got through annihilating my catch, I mixed in a few tablespoons of mayonnaise, a couple more of light sour cream, lemon juice, green onion, Penzey's 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.

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