Baked Blue Crab Gremolata

October 27, 2006

This dish is going to take some advance preparation, David. If you decide to cut corners and buy a pound of fresh picked back fin, you can use the travel story and she’ll feel like she’s the most special girl in the world.

First things first, head to the bait and tackle store for a crab net. Next, set your alarm for midnight and hop in your hot rod packed with the crab net, a couple of 5 gallon pickle buckets and a spool of string or two. I would also consider a couple gallons of the most toxic bug repellant you can find. The Chesapeake Bay is loaded with biting flies which can render an adult human completely bloodless within minutes. Head South on the New Jersey Turnpike towards the Cheasapeake Bay. Make sure you check the fishing reports before you leave to get the inside scoop on the best spots. According to Eastern Shore locals, the best crabbing is before dawn, so you’ll need to high-tail it. You’ll also need a good radar detector. The Delaware State Troopers are bored at that hour.

When you’re getting close to your selected spot, pull over at the local Food Lion or a 24 hour Safeway for a pack of chicken legs. That’s right, you heard, chicken legs. Tie a chicken leg on the string and plop it in the water. When you feel a critter having a snack, swoop down with your swift net and nab that sucker. Keep at it. It takes quite a few crabs to make this dish.

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Here’s where we break traditions with the Eastern Shore. Steam the crabs in white wine and cayenne pepper for 20-30 minutes until they turn bright red. Allow the crabs to cool so you don’t burn your hands. You’ll have a hard time pawing your date with blistered mits. Open up the crabs and remove the back fin meat. Separate this from the other meat which you can use for avocado crab soup.


1 pound of back fin crab meat
half of a cayenne pepper, deseeded and minced
2 cloves minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
zest of one lime
4 tablespoons heavy cream
6 tablespoons melted butter
2 pinchs of salt to taste

Put the crab meat in a bowl and do a final pick through to make sure you’ve removed all traces of shell. Nothing puts the brakes on a romantic meal than crab shell between the teeth. In a separate bowl, combine the parsley, cilantro, garlic, lemon and lime zest and lemon juice. Add this mixture to the crab meat then add the butter, cream, salt and cayenne. Mound the crab on 4 sea scallop shells and dust the tops with Hungarian hot paprika. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes. Top with a small mound of crisp oven baked frites (recipe below) and serve with Viognier.

The above recipe was inspired and adapted from Shirley King’s Saucing the Fish.

Oven Baked Frites
These frites should be crunchy through and through with no soft potato on the inside.

2 large russet potatoes
2 TBS olive oil
2 pinches of salt to taste
2 turns of the peppermill

Pre-heat the oven to 450. Dust off your mandoline and cut the potatoes into matchsticks. Soak them in a bath of salted water for at least an hour. Just before cooking, remove from the water and place on a towel to dry. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place them in a single layer on an lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn them over. Bake for 10 minutes more or until crisp and dark golden.

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