For those of you who live near an ocean, crab is probably not so special, even more so now during crab season. Evan fishes for crabs at the beach near home in San Francisco. Carol goes to a great seafood shop right on the pier in Los Angeles. We land-locked folks are not so lucky. We can buy small plastic containers filled with pasteurized crab from Indonesia, and that’s about it. The pull date on the package is nearly 6 months away, so it is hard to think of the product as “fresh”, although it certainly beats canned crab filled with paper wrapping hard to distinguish from what is called the crab.
In spite of these shortcomings, I recently bought some of the pasteurized crab because I thought it would be easy for Susan to eat. As directed, I looked for bits of shell, and sure enough I found some. I admit that I did use a crutch. Some time ago, we bought a little ultraviolet (“black light”) flashlight from American Science & Surplus to search for scorpions in the desert with the grandchildren. It really works for that, and so I thought it might work with crab. Many restaurants use black light to screen their crab before they use it, so it was not an original idea. Nevertheless, our cheap little black light worked, and I found several pieces of shell and cartilage. One of my images shows my discovery of a bit of cartilage, although holding the camera and flashlight in a dark room while struggling with proper focus and exposure was a set of coordinated activities beyond my skill set.
After that little adventure, I set about using the crab in something that would be soft enough and not too spicy for Susan. Crab and mushrooms seemed like a perfect option.
Deviled Crab and Mushroom Gratin
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup milk
- salt and pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon prepared whole-grain mustard
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 1 teaspoon Pernod
- 6 crimini mushrooms sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup crabmeat
- 1 cup panko, divided
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook for a few minutes to remove the raw taste of the flour and to make a blond roux. Do not allow to brown.
- Stir in the milk and, stirring constantly, bring to a boil until thickened. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and then stir in the garlic, mustard, parsley, and Pernod.
- In another saucepan, sauté the sliced mushrooms in the olive oil. Stir into the sauce along with the crab and ½ cup of the panko.
- Arrange in one or two buttered ramekins. Top with the remaining panko and grated Parmesan. Brush on melted butter.
- Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 375°F for 15 minutes or until bubbling. Place under the broiler for a few minutes until the top is browned.
- Serve immediately. Serves two.