Saturday, June 14, 2008

Soft Shelled Crab Sandwich

Two things first. One, if you don't like looking at live (and dead) animals about to be eaten, don't scroll down. Two, while I'm sure the tastes are not comparable, this sandwich is a hell of a lot easier to make than this one. Still, the one above is tasty, and remarkably easy to eat if the sandwich is cut in half.

Nothing fancy here, just a tried and true method for some good soft shelled crab. First the crab is cleaned (kind of pictured below). Then, while a wok is heating up over full flame, a flour mixture is made consisting of white flour, old bay (a good amount), salt, and pepper. A small pool of high-heat safe oil is added to the hot wok (I used canola) and then the cleaned crab gets thoroughly covered in the seasoned flour. Into the wok it goes (might want to wear an apron--it sometimes splatters), cooked until it's done. This is not one of those things you want to be right on top of watching it cook or you may take a hit of molten crab insides.

And while the bread is normal, the lettuce is kind of special. Not purposefully in honor of one of Cleveland's favorite chefs who's headed to Terra Madre this fall (in the land of espresso and Barolo), the lettuce is a mix of Amish Deer Tongue, Grandpa Admirer's, and Tennis Ball from a Slow Food Ark of Taste pack of lettuce starts picked up at a great little organic plant sale at the absolutely amazing Crown Point Ecology Center in Akron (I always suspected Akron of being hipper than it admits. See also Mo' Mojo Mama Band.). Despite the heat, in partial shade and with all the rain we've been having these plants are thriving.

For sauce, a little mayo mixed with shallots and Frank's RedHot. There are few quasi-natural hot sauces I don't like, but I always go back to Frank's for American food and Tapatio for Mexican. Probably a result of growing up in the East and cutting my teeth out West.

Those things in the back--my first decent bunch of sugar snaps this season. Cooked in the wok with a little oil, water, salt, and pepper. Once the water cooked off they were just barely steamed and then started to get crispy in the oil.

Finally, tunes to cook by (an homage to the first link in this post). John E. Midnight's Dig Baby Dig! The 60s Rock and Roll Excavation. One town, three college radio stations. It generally works out well.

Hopefully that all took up enough space so it's up to you whether you want to look further. It's not bad, but I know at least one person who'd rather not see the carnage.

Alive and kicking, from Kate's at the West Side Market (Ask Eric, behind the counter, to help you. He's not just there for his looks.):
Cleaned crab. On the right, from top to bottom, gills, face, and apron.

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