Food & Drink

Sean Brock’s Ol’ Fuskie Crab Rice

In his new book, South, the Nashville-based chef pays tribute to the Lowcountry cuisine that inspired him

photo: Peter Frank Edwards


There are two key things to know when cooking a good plate of crab rice: The first is to cook the rice separately, really focusing on it so it keeps its unique flavor and character. The second is to cook the crab with the attention it requires. The trick is to spread the crabmeat mixture in a thin, even layer in the skillet and then not disturb it until it’s browned on the bottom. It takes a lot of patience, courage, trust, and confidence in yourself, but once you make crab rice a couple of times, it will all seem natural.

Use all your senses when cooking this dish. Smell the crab as it starts to brown; it has a very distinct, delicious aroma. Listen for the popping and crackling that will start when the pan is almost dry. Once you hear that, take a little peek underneath to see if the crab is getting some light brown color. When you smell that aroma, hear that sizzle, and see that color, take the pan off the stove and gently fold in the lemon juice. There are few things better than crab cooked just right. —Sean Brock


Excerpted from South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations by Sean Brock (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards.


Ingredients

  • (Serves 6 as an appetizer)

  • Base

    • ¼ cup small dice slab bacon, preferably Benton's

    • ⅓ cup dried shrimp

    • 1¼ cups very finely diced sweet onion

    • 1 cup very finely diced celery

    • 1 cup very finely diced red bell pepper

    • 2 tsp. minced garlic

    • 1 tbsp. kosher salt

  • Rice

    • 4 cups water

    • 1 tbsp. kosher salt

    • ¼ tsp. freshly ground white pepper

    • 1 fresh bay leaf

    • 1¼ cups Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice

    • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, diced

  • Crab

    • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter

    • 1 pound fresh lump blue crab meat, carefully picked over for shells and cartilage

    • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

    • 2 tbsp. tomato jam

    • 2 tbsp. finely chopped chives

    • 2 tbsp. grated crab roe bottarga (recipe below; casing removed, grated with a Microplane)

  • Crab Roe Bottarga (Makes one 12-ounce piece)

    • 8 ounces blue crab roe, carefully picked over for shells and cartilage

    • 12 large egg yolks

    • 1 summer sausage casing (2.9 by 20 inches)

    • 4 cups kosher salt, plus more as needed


Preparation

  1. For the base: Put the bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until it starts to soften and the fat begins to render, about 1 minute. Add the dried shrimp and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 6 minutes. Remove from the stove and set aside.

  2. For the rice: Combine the water, salt, white pepper, and bay leaf in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and stir to be sure the salt has dissolved completely. Reduce the heat to medium, add the rice, stir once, and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain. Transfer to another medium saucepan, discarding the bay leaf. Stir in the butter and cover to keep warm.

  3. For the crab: Heat the butter in a large skillet over high heat until foamy. Add the base mixture and the crab, spread it into a thin, even layer, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, undisturbed, until the crab begins to brown on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gently fold in the lemon juice.

  4. To serve: Put a dollop of tomato jam in the center of each of six warm plates. Divide the rice among the plates, placing it on top of the jam, and sprinkle with the chives. Spoon the crab on top and sprinkle with the bottarga.

     

  5. For the crab roe bottarga: Crab roe bottarga lets you push the fresh blue crab roe season out a little longer. This recipe came about because I wanted to grate a little cured egg yolk over a she-crab soup to get an added layer of richness. Then I realized I could combine the egg yolk with the sweet crab roe and preserve that flavor for use throughout the year, until the next roe season came around.

  6. Note: Blue crab roe is available in some seafood markets and from online sources.

  7. Combine the roe and egg yolks in a food processor and process until completely combined, about 1 minute.

  8. Using a funnel, slowly pour the roe mixture into the casing. Lightly tap the side of the casing to remove air bubbles. Cut off any excess casing about 3 inches above the mixture and tie the end off tightly with a double knot of butcher’s twine.

  9. Pour 2 cups of the salt into the bottom of an 8-by-6-by-4-inch glass loaf pan or other nonreactive container. Add the bottarga and cover with the remaining 2 cups salt. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 3 days.

  10. Remove the bottarga from the salt and wipe away any salt from its surface. Attach a length of butcher’s twine to the bottarga just below the knot at the top of the casing and hang the bottarga in the refrigerator, making sure it hangs freely and doesn’t touch anything; it’s important to have good air circulation around it. Place a bowl filled with kosher salt underneath the bottarga to catch any drippings and absorb odors. Let the bottarga hang for 7 to 10 days, making sure the temperature stays below 40°F. The bottarga will lose moisture and the texture will become firmer.

  11. Transfer the bottarga to a container, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

     


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