Friday, May 29, 2009

Creepy Crawly Crabbies (and some chorizo too)

My husband loves his crustaceans. He loves shrimp and crab and lobster.

The only thing he doesn't like is the peeling and the cracking. He loves crab cakes (a trait he shares with Adam), but you're not going to see him going at whole crabs with mallets and nutcrackers. He loves shrimp scampi and shrimp cocktail, but he's not so keen on "peel 'n' eat" shrimp. He loves lobster ravioli and shrimp with lobster sauce at Chinese restaurants, but you won't see him dismember a whole lobster (although he will eat lobster tails in the case where the meat can easily be popped out). He doesn't like to work for his dinner.

I always thought he would enjoy soft shell crabs because of this. He could have a whole crab, but not have to work at getting the meat out. It seemsed like a perfect solution.

My problem is that I often have trouble finding them in my neighborhood. They have a short season and not all seafood purveyors stock them regularly. Occasionally I see them already prepared, which takes the fun out of cooking with them and experiments with recipes.

I lucked out eventually. I found soft shell crabs at the seafood counter at Stew Leonards yesterday. I eagerly approached the counter, hoping to snag some. Then I noticed something.

The crabs were still alive and crawling around their little niche in the ice.

Have I mentioned that as much as my husband loves crustaceans, I fear them? Yep. They scare me. They're ugly, bug-like beasts (insects are crustaceans too after all). They have sharp, evil claws. Ever since I was a child I never wanted to be too close to a crab. I remember crabbing with my grandparents in Cape Cod when I was younger. Whenever I caught a crab, I would have someone else pull it up because I was terrified of doing it myself.

I vividly remember a dream I had when I was 5 where I dreamed I was lying in bed and crabs were crawling all over the place. I don't like crabs.

(To be fair, I also vividly remember a dream I had where Dracula hovered threateningly over my bed, but "Dracula" was actually Morgan Freeman in his "Electric Company" vampire costume. As a grownup, I don't seem to fear Morgan Freeman.)

As I stood there and stared in horror at the display case the clerk behind the counter asked if I needed help.

"These crabs are still alive," I exclaimed.

"Of course they are. They are supposed to be," she said.

"How do I cook them?" was all I could ask.

She talked about coating them in flour and frying them in some butter and garlic.

"No," I protested. "How do I kill them? Am I supposed to kill them?"

"I'll clean them for you," she reassured me. I later learned on the internet while looking for more recipe suggestions that "clean" means removing their heads. I was glad I didn't have to do that, but I also hoped that while I was shopping on my lunch hour that they would still be reasonably fresh by the time I was ready to make dinner that evening. They didn't stink when I got them home, so I figured I was safe.

Ugly beasts. See the wineglass stem off to the right? I needed alcohol to deal with these things.

I dredged them in flour, salt, pepper, cayenne, and a little paprika. Then into a pan with some butter, olive oil, and garlic.

They got some squirts of lemon juice and were piled onto a a bed of lettuce. I really liked the coating I made. It was simple, but perfect. I managed to get the edges a little crispy.

Hubby was quite happy with them.

So what did I eat? I managed to actually prepare the scary food, but then there is the other part of my dislike of crustaceans. I don't like the taste. I had to make myself something different.

I trotted out the grill pan and grilled some red peppers.

Then some onions.

Then, the best part of all, some chorizo.

I don't do much grilling as you all know. My grill pan is the only way I can get a grilled taste on my food. I don't like using it because it smokes up the kitchen so badly. I have to turn the noisy vent fan to full blast and open all of the windows.

I piled it all on a ciabatta roll with machego cheese.

I must say this was the best sandwich I've had in quite some time. It was really really REALLY good. There are few things better than grilled spicy sausage and when you combine it with a really good cheese, magic happens. I am normally quite reserved and ladylike with my speech, but this sandwich turned me into a regular Michelle. "(Expletive) Me! This sandwich is so (Expletive) good. This is such a (expletive) good sandwich!" Perhaps I overdid the enthusiasm? Maybe it was just all that wine I drank to combat the crab fear.


Sue said...

YOU ARE A SAINT! THAT is what restaurants are for - to do things in the privacy of their kitchens that we don't want to do...or see.

You did a really great job too. Honestly, I can't think of anything dredged and fried that wouldn't be good.

Thanks for the intro to Michelle. She's hilarious.

Sara said...

This looks really delicious. I'm not all that squeamish, but one thing I do hate is cleaning crabs - so gross!

Bunny said...

Oh what a horrible dream! I don't blame you for not wanting to make them! Oh the things we do for our hubbys! Love the sandwich!!

Donna-FFW said...

Oh you did a marvelous job, Ive never made them, Im squeamish about that. But they are delicious and yours looks tasty! What a nice wife you are;)

noble pig said...

Those crabs! OMG..I'm beyond jealous!

Lo said...

OK -- I'm a crustacean fan, so I'm all about that crab. But, I also have to admit that the sausage sammich is giving the crab a run for its money. Not much better than grilled spicy sausages in my book :)

Adam said...

Aw well isn't that a sweet thing you did for him. He's lucky to have you Rach, seriously. Nothing spells love like crabs... (the food, sorry haha) They look great, and I bet the paprika went awesome with it.

And you started my stomach hungry for some kielbasa now, with your chorizo :)

Bellini Valli said...

Wonderful of you to make something you don't care for. I am sure they tasted delicious:D

The Blonde Duck said...

I know this is totally inappropriate, but all I can think of is that scene in the Little Mermaid where the chef is singing about cooking crabs! And that laugh--Ha ha ha!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Sue - I hope you realized I didn't actually clean the crabs myself. I just cooked them, which was scary enough!

Sara - I'm glad I'm not the only one who would have trouble dismembering a live crab.

Bunny - At least crabs in my bed in the dream wasn't prophetic of anything. ;-)

Donna - Thanks. I've learned to shell shrimp if I hold my breath too!

Cathy - Awwwwww thanks...Wish you had been around to share them.

Lo - It was a pretty awesome sandwich. Even if you like crabs, it wins in ease of perparation!

Adam - Hahahahahah. There is a reason why I like you so much!

Kielbasa! Now you have me in the mood for another sausage. NOthing says love like sausage either.;-)

Val - Thanks. I try. Gotta make him good food to make up for being such an evil shrew the rest of hte time.

Duckie- Too funny. I hadn't even thought of that. Sebastian hiding under Ariel's plate while the crazy chef came after him with a cleaver. One of hte best Disney scenes ever!

Emily said...

I admire you for cooking these. Do do you eat the little legs too? I don't know if I could eat mini crab legs. It all seems kind of creepy but I'd try them anway.

I think I'm prefer your sausage sammich. I love manchego, chorizo and ciabatta. Yum!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Em - My husband spit the legs out, so I'm assuming no. At least they were too tough for him to eat. I don't know about other people.

Of course you prefer the sausage sandwich. That's why I like you so much!

Jeff said...

It is funny the things we put ourselves through for the joy of eating. I don't mind dumping a lobster in a pot of boiling water but I agree with your husband the amount of work I have to put forth for my dinner by beating up a crab or a lobster is not worth it.

Nicely done!

Rebekka said...

Ok, I have to say...I never knew insects are crustaceans. GROSS!!!!!!!!!!

Theresa said...

Wow, I can't believe you did all that and didn't even eat them!!! What a woman you are. Love seafood, but I won't bring them home alive!

Steph said...

I had a scary dream about crabs too when I was young. It was after my grandmother bought live crabs which weren't killed and she had to do it herself. I thought it would be fun to help her, but I ended up having a nightmare about them crawling all over my bed. I love seafood though and can never get enough of it even when it gets a little tricky to eat. Btw, I stumbled upon your blog from the RR discussion. I don't have as strong feelings about her as you do, but I think you made excellent points. I don't mind shortcuts, but it makes me sad when they make it seem like just because it works, there's no need to improve or learn. Also, just because something is good or edible, it doesn't mean it can't be amazing!

Peter M said...

Three cheers for soft shell crab...a culinary delight...Mrs. Pickypants! lol