My relatives weren’t in our house 24 hours before disaster struck.
That’s the problem with living in the paradise that is the Key Peninsula; people are always trying to visit and if you’re related to them — and it’s the holidays — it’s hard to keep them out. And they’re everywhere! They’re sprawled on your couch, they’re in line for the bathroom, they’re rifling your fridge.
That’s where the trouble started.
I woke up early the morning after the arrival of the Perennially Visiting Relatives to find the freezer door ajar and a large freshwater lake on the kitchen floor. Inside were the thawed remains of our long summer’s hard work: many, many pounds of once frozen salmon, shrimp and Dungeness crab.
Also, the gin was missing.
“Oh, well,” said one grinning in-law, “I guess we’ll have to eat it all.”
I spend a lot of time fishing, shrimping and crabbing, and am somewhat conflicted since the populations of those delicious species are endangered in our neighborhood. I am careful about what I take and particular about preparing it well and serving it only to the Most Deserving Friends — another increasingly endangered species.
But the disaster was upon us and there was no point crying about spilled seafood. Yelling and screaming, yes, but no crying. Instead, I created a production line to prepare everything we had right then, conscripting groggy relatives to prepare soggy seafood on an industrial scale into handy and portable holiday treats suitable for delivery to the Most Deserving Friends, or even to serve to Perennially Visiting Relatives.
This recipe for crab croquettes is one of them. It has been scaled down to a humane size and remains intentionally simple for deployment in any relative-related emergency. But it can be easily adapted to accommodate a crowd or, more importantly, different seafood. Almost all of the ingredients are pantry staples that can be readily replaced with fresh ingredients like red pepper, garlic or ginger, to name a few, to add depth and body for any diner, deserving or not.
¼ cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt (yes, it matters)
6 ounces cooked crab
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
About 4 cups vegetable oil for frying
Saute onions in butter until softened and transfer to a bowl to combine with mustard, garlic powder, salt, crab, one egg and ¼ cup of panko.
Mix into eight bite-sized or better balls and set on an oiled baking sheet. Whisk remaining egg with 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Put the rest of the panko in another. Dip crab balls in egg and then roll in the panko.
Heat oil to 350 or so, hot but not smoking, and gently fry three or four balls at a time until medium brown. Should take less than five minutes.
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