Cooking: Local, sweet crabmeat is the star in these recipes
over on the mainland, is our source for oversized blue crabs.
delectable lump meat sold in the local markets is cooked and picked and
ready to eat, making it very easy to use -- hot or cold. And,
believe me, picking a pound of crabmeat takes time and skill, so it is
sometimes worth buying it this way.
This month I was inspired for some reason by gravlax, Swedish cured
salmon, and wondered if the flavors would work with crabmeat.
Gravlax is based on mustard, brown sugar, and lots of fresh
Since I have fresh dill growing now and it won’t last long in the heat,
I decided to try it in a sauce by mixing it with heavy cream, mustard,
and brown sugar.
Sticky Bottom Produce Company had just opened for the season, so off I
went down the road to see what I could find for a seafood
I returned home with cantaloupe, red and yellow peppers, and bulbous
sweet green onions, and I decided on a composed salad with crab.
It was pretty, colorful and flavorful and the sauce was perfect with
all the ingredients and especially complemented the delicate sweet
crabmeat and melon.
(1 pound) lump
crab meat, preferably from Lake Mattamuskeet
onion, the large sweet variety, also from Mattamuskeet if possible
pepper and 1/3
yellow pepper, thinly sliced
Arrange the lettuce leaves on individual dinner plates and top with
crab meat and with cantaloupe cubes. Sprinkle on the sliced
onions and peppers and dribble the dressing over all. Top
the fresh dill.
pint) heavy cream
or to taste
chopped fresh dill
Whisk rather than stir to get a thicker sauce. Just don’t go
far and turn it into mustardy whipped cream. You want it to
but not too easily.
The next day I blended the left-over crabmeat with the salad veggies,
sliced water chestnuts, and slivered almonds. I stirred in
of the dressing , enough to hold the mixture together, and rolled it in
egg roll wrappers and fried them in peanut oil until crispy and golden
brown. The remainder of the sauce was used for dipping.
They were even better than the salad, so I made the egg rolls again for
my contribution to a birthday celebration -- but with cooked shrimp
from a previous dinner. I made a few changes to the sauce
omitting the brown sugar and substituting French tarragon for the
Just be sure to use French tarragon, fresh if you can, but dried will
do. If it is not labeled “French Tarragon,” don’t use
Tarragon or Russian tarragon are very different herbs and will ruin
Crabcakes are practically a clichè but for good reason. Who
doesn’t love crab cakes? Because the best crabcakes are
nothing more than crabmeat, the creativity comes in the
I confess that my crabcakes don’t always make it to the plate intact,
but the flavor is still good, so don’t worry if yours break
up. I am sure there is a secret to it all, so please let me
the readers know your tips for success.
This time I drew inspiration from two island icons, Steve Bailey at
Risky Business Seafood, where I like to purchase ready-to-cook
crabcakes, and Don Oden at the Breakwater restaurant who rolls his
crabcakes in crushed potato chips for a salty crunch.
The crabcakes were an impulse buy late one afternoon when I wasn’t
going to have time to do much prepping. It wasn’t hard or
time-consuming to crush potato chips, heat ghee, mix a quick salsa ,and
cook some rice. To be honest, those crabcakes are better than
I love the very nutty taste of red rice from the Camargue in France,
and I upped its nuttiness with a few toasted almond slivers that I had
roasted earlier for the egg rolls. If you don’t have red
all means use your favorite rice. I think Basmati is a good
substitute, and it is more readily available than the red
Rather than a homemade salsa that takes time to chop up or the more
usual seafood cocktail sauce, I took yet another shortcut and got some
gentle heat from canned RO*TEL diced tomatoes and chilies.
that allows you to cook over higher heat than you normally can with
(You can make your own clarified butter. Cut unsalted butter
pats and place in a saucepan over moderate heat. Heat until
melted and then skim off the foam. Strain the clear yellow
liquid, the clarified butter, into a bowl and leave the milky residue
in the bottom of the pan. According to Julia Child ,you can
the residue for adding enrichment to soups and stews.)
Roll the crabcakes in the crushed potato chips and cook in hot ghee for
a luscious buttery flavor (or use peanut oil) in a heavy deep frying
pan until crisp and golden brown.
rice or your
rice of choice
Prepare the rice according to package directions and toss on about 1/2
cup of almonds that have been dry roasted on the stove until tan and
1 can RO*TEL
tomatoes and green chilies, drained
ounces) sour cream
Just mix and serve. Adjust the proportions to your taste and
extent of heat you want. You can even add chilies, but I like
this salsa more on the mild side so it doesn’t overwhelm the crab.
There are lots of really good shortcuts in the seafood markets here
that make life easier, especially for vacationers who don’t really want
to spend their all-too-brief time here in a kitchen and may not be too
comfortable cooking seafood anyway.
I firmly believe it is important to purchase from locally owned and
operated businesses here on the islands and usually I can get anything
I need. Sometimes I want something that is too specialized
our stores to carry, so I order online.
Indian Pure Foods grass-fed, organic Ghee, clarified butter used
extensively in Indian and French cooking, and Camargue red rice are two
examples of items I have to shop for online.
I encourage you to buy locally as much as you can and when visiting,
please seek out the smaller family-owned grocers and markets located in
Supplement, if you will, with the array of more exotic foodstuffs
brought straight to your door by the UPS delivery person - he or she is
also a local resident and we need to keep him/her employed too!
Hatteras village with her husband, Ernie. Together they operate The
Albatross Fleet of charter boats. They actively support the sustainable
practices of the island’s commercial fishermen and the preservation of
Hatteras Island’s working waterfront. Both love to cook
and entertain friends, and Lynne loves to experiment with recipes for
locally caught seafood.)