In general, I stay away from shellfish. However, yesterday one of my coworkers brought in a buttload (not literally) of cooked Dungeness crabs for distribution. This being the holiday season, there was not a buttload of us at the office. So when it came time to divvy up the catch, I took my ration. My rules/beliefs on consuming animal flesh are convoluted, but leaving them in the office fridge for a four-day weekend, and then inevitably thrown away uneaten thereafter, would have been 10 times worse than actually eating the poor guys.
I took two, with the idea of making a crab quiche with my new Japanese tart pans. (Thanks, TZ!) I’ve only ever eaten crab legs or crab meat shelled by someone else, never have I had a whole crab. I read up on the process of how to cook (thankfully already done) and clean them. Just reading about it made me want to never do it again. A flicker of thought told me to just take the legs and forget about the bodies, but mostly I felt I needed to do them justice. And so I went to work.
Cleaning the meat out of the legs was tedious but after almost an hour, it was done. The bodies . . . It’s true that if you stick your thumb in that place there, the carapace just pulls right off. What’s inside . . . really looks alien. Not that I’ve seen an extraterrestrial, much less dissected one, but that is exactly what came to mind. Too many movies, I suppose. And again, I was so, so thankful it was already cooked. I felt bad because I think I did waste a bit of meat in my haste to get that part over with. And now I can truly say I will never voluntarily clean a crab again.
That all being said, it was time for the fun part. I cleaned one of the tart pans. It is a 7″ tin, so I had to reduce my recipe which was for a 9″ pastry. I made some other modifications due to kitchen/pantry constraints. I sauteed a bit of red onion in butter, then added the crab. I used one pre-made pastry to line the tin, and baked it a few minutes. Amazingly, of all the crazy cheeses at QFC, they only had two choices for Swiss cheese – a one-pound block from Tillamook and a small packet of store-brand. Reluctantly, I went with the store brand, as I really don’t need a pound of Swiss cheese in my fridge. So, I grated a layer of cheese on the bottom, scooped the crab & onion on top of that, grated another layer of cheese. Two eggs were beaten with a bit more than half a cup of half-and-half, a generous sprinkling of cayenne pepper, and more salt than I felt comfortable with (it will still probably be less than what any recipe would call for).
Verdict: Delicious! Thank you, crabs!!