Posts Tagged With: Crab

292/365: National Seafood Bisque Day*

It would be shellfish of me not to remind you about today’s food holiday. October 19 is National Seafood Bisque Day!

Alternatively, you could celebrate National Oatmeal Muffin Day. No offense to oatmeal or muffins, but why would you? A rich, hearty, and delicious seafood bisque sounds about a million times more appealing, especially as the weather is turning colder. Besides, this will enable us to use up the last of our crab from the wedding.

A bisque is a smooth, creamy soup based on a strained broth made with crustacean shells – typically shrimp, crab, or lobster. The name of this French classic is believed to have come from the Bay of Biscay, though bis cuites (“twice cooked”) also applies to the preparation of a typical bisque, in which the crustaceans are generally sauteed in their shells first, before being simmered in a broth of wine and other ingredients and then strained. Cream is then added, and the soup is thickened with a roux, though in the past rice was commonly used, or even the pulverized crustacean shells themselves. When cooking a bisque, Julia Childs instructs, “Do not wash anything off until the soup is done because you will be using the same utensils repeatedly and you don’t want any marvelous tidbits of flavor losing themselves down the drain.” Marvelous tidbits of flavor, come baaaack!!!

We’ve been very fortunate with the timing of many of these food holidays. I guess we picked a good year to take on this project, because it seems the toughest challenges have fallen on either Friday nights when we could go out, or weekends, when we are able to invest the time in cooking a tricky meal from scratch. I know this has been the case with Peking duck, escargot, and rum punch, among others, and today is no exception. Besides the Dungeness crab from our wedding, Tara added shrimp and  made a wonderful seafood bisque that was hot, creamy, and loaded with delicious flavor.

National Seafood Bisque Day

Categories: Seafood, Soup | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

268/365: National Crab Meat Newburg Day

You’ll have to claw your way to the seafood aisle in order to enjoy today’s food holiday. September 25 is National Crab Meat Newburg Day!

Crab Newburg evolved from Lobster Newburg, a dish invented by sea captain Ben Wenberg, who had become quite wealthy thanks to the “fruits” of his labor. Literally: he was involved in the fruit trade between Cuba and New York. When Ben wasn’t sailing the high seas, he enjoyed dining at Delmonico’s in NYC. One day he walked in and announced he’d discovered a new way to cook lobster. Charles Delmonico brought him a chafing dish, and he cooked the lobster at the table. Mr. Delmonico was so impressed with the end result he added the dish to his menu and named it in Ben’s honor, Lobster a la Wenberg. It became a big hit with diners, but was removed from the menu after Delmonico and Wenberg got into a skirmish over something, and Ben was banned from the restaurant. Patrons still demanded the dish, so Charles simply rearranged the letters – “Wenberg” became “Newberg” – and added it back to the menu. Creative chefs began substituting shrimp, frog’s legs, and crab in the dish, and for some reason these alternate versions dropped the second “e” in favor of a “u” to make it Newburg. We’ll always remember you though, Ben!

The timing of this holiday was fortunate, considering the leftover Dungeness crab we’ve got from our wedding weekend. We simply had to defrost that, extract the meat, and follow this recipe. What gives the dish its distinct flavor is cream and sherry. Actually, we were out of sherry, but substituted vermouth instead (left over from our martini challenge). I loved this meal, and couldn’t get enough of it! Tara wasn’t quite as impressed, but still enjoyed it.

National Crab Meat Newburg Day

Categories: Seafood | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

68/365: National Crabmeat Day

There should be a special claws stating that every day is National Crabmeat Day, because the sweet and tender crustacean is a delicious delicacy that we are happy to celebrate today! But I’m just being shellfish. We are fortunate in the Pacific Northwest to have access to Dungeness crab year-round. It’s one of my favorite seafood treats.

Crabs are ocean-dwelling crustaceans dating back to the Jurassic period. Many species live in fresh water, and some even exist on land. It is unknown when humans first realized crab was good to eat. Probably some early homo sapien ran out of saber tooth tiger meat before company arrived, and turned to crab because he was in a pinch. Crabs make up 20% of all crustaceans consumed worldwide. There are a wide variety of preparation methods: popular dishes include bisque, curry, and crab cakes. They can be boiled, steamed, baked, or fried. Some species (such as soft shell crabs) are eaten whole, while other varieties are prized for the meat in their claws or legs (snow crab). In Asia, female crab roe is considered a delicacy. In many countries and cultures, crab is beloved, but the expense makes it a rare treat, so imitation crab meat is substituted. In America, it is typically served in sushi (California rolls) or in crab salad, and is often made with pollock, a mild white fish abundant in the Bering Sea off of Alaska. The fish is skinned and boned, and the meat is minced and artificially flavored. It may contain a small amount of real crabmeat, but all I can say is: what a waste. Nothing beats real crab!

Tara and I are visiting family in Seattle this weekend, which gave us the perfect excuse to head down to Pike Place Market, an enormous public market overlooking Elliott Bay. Open since 1907, Pike Place is famous for its selection of fresh seafood. What better place to go to celebrate crab?

Our philosophy for this challenge was, simpler was better. Dungeness crab is so sweet and succulent on its own, we decided to pick up a couple of crabmeat cocktails. Big chunks of crab and a deliciously tangy, perfectly spicy cocktail sauce – and nothing else. Not cheap at $9 a pop, but you know what? I am declaring this my favorite food challenge so far. It was absolutely delicious.

Food at its most simple and finest: big chunks of fresh Dungeness crab, cocktail sauce, and nothing else. Delicious!

Food at its most simple and finest: big chunks of fresh Dungeness crab, cocktail sauce, and nothing else. Delicious!

Categories: Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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