If there’s one thing living on the east coast has taught me, it’s that crabs just love amputating each other if it means the chance of escape. Well, I’ve learned other things, but most pertinent to this entry is the amputation thing. Maybe they’re upset because I was about to boil them to death. “Well stop making yourself so delicious,” would be my response. This time of year they’re super cheap ($15 for a dozen, though the two of us needed only six), but I still never think to go out of my way and find them. They’re always an afterthought. Anyway, J requested, and I delivered.
I salted the “holding tank” with kosher salt thinking that obviously made it more like the ocean. Also they’re from a Jewish fish-monger. That’s a lie. The fish-monger is Chinese, but I liked the joke too much to leave it out. Also, im not sure if shellfish is kosher. It probably isn’t. Anyway the point is to give them 1-3 last chances at oceanic life before their ghastly death, mainly to allow them time to poop and shed whatever grit’s lodged in their orificies. Delicious!
While they rested I prepared the boil. Quartered lemons and onions, a dozen crushed garlic cloves, several tablespoons of salt, generous coarsely ground pepper and of course the Old Bay Seasoning (eyeballed…maybe a 1/8 cup) were added to a large pot of water. As usual, you’re not looking to reclaim these boiled ingredients; they’re purely for flavor and fun. I’ve seen various recipes not including Old Bay, but the thing is, they perfected it already, so you shouldn’t try to improve upon it. It’s not like you can perfect a basic sheet cake recipe, anymore than it already has that is. It’s the same amount of flour, sugar, egg, oil, etc. as the boxed variety. Pick your battles, people; a spice mix shouldn’t be one of them. Not to drill it home anymore, but…they’re conveniently dried and stored in little bottles for a reason people! Dont make the spice trade a vain quest! J later walked in, saw the pot on the stove and sarcastically said, “Mmm, lemon onion soup!”
Side note: we once went to every grocery store we could think of in our neighborhood looking for Old Bay a few years ago when we first tried to do a crab boil. Literally everyone was out. Vowing that I would never let that happen again, I turned to where I solve all of my problems: Amazon. I bought the largest Old Bay container available, and it came in a two-pack. So yah, if you need to borrow any.
Oh, and I accompanied the fresh crab with crab cakes bought from the fish monger. You just saute them in a healthy amount of butter, spooning the butter over the side of the cake not touching the pan. In conclusion: butter. They were actually quite good.
Finally, to round out the meal I prepared roasted red potatoes with a honey mustard/thyme glaze (equal parts honey and mustard, chopped garlic, salt, pepper -> whisk in oil). “Glaze” in the sense that there was sugar, and I heated it. I also added chopped fresh fennel bulb, which I’ll admit is solely inspired by that toothy food network
bitch star who seems to include it in nearly every other roasted vegetable recipe. They added a welcome crunchy texture on a plate of otherwise soft foods. I’ve made these potatoes several times before, so this time I decided to try cooking at a lower than usual temperature (325 vs. 425) because I 1) had inexplicably started cooking way too early, and 2) the aforementoined sugary content of course burns at a lower temperature than the potatoes would. Point of warning: the smell from roasting honey-mustard anything is amazing. Even if nothing in your menu include honey-mustard, I suggest you just roast some honey-mustard when guests arrive.