March 9 – Crabmeat Day
Let’s get some crabs!
The crabby yet delicious little crustaceans are on the menu for today, which is National Crabmeat Day. You can buy crabmeat still in the crab, of course–head down to Chinatown and find some fresh blues still scuttling around and chomping down their claws. But if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of a tough shell (or feel squeamish about killing the crabs yourself), crabmeat comes pre-processed in tin cans, separated by the type of meat, typically lump (coming from the back fin and legs) and claw (coming from the…well, claw). While lump crabmeat is considered the more valuable meat, claw has a stronger taste. But either (and both) can be used in dishes that call for crabmeat, such as a good seafood roll, or a crabcake burger.
Those just happen to be the two dishes in New York that I’m highlighting on National Crabmeat Day 😉 I love crabmeat, but arguably it’s much better when you futz around with it a little–the crabcake didn’t get so popular all on its own, you know. And Mundo Cafe in Astoria knows this very well. Here, they’ve changed the formula for making a crabcake–lots of spices and breading and little crab–and beefed up the patty to make a crabmeat burger. It even breaks the cardinal rule of mixing seafood with cheese: the meaty crab patty is mixed with cheddar and jack cheeses as well as hard-boiled eggs onto a warm bun. It’s wrong but so, so right. Add in Mundo’s signature seasoned fries and you’ve got a diner staple elevated to something modern and wonderful.
Mundo Cafe & Restaurant
3118 Broadway, Astoria
“The crabmeat burger is forgiven for lacking distinct ethnicity as it clearly hails from the nation of delicious: its rich crabby goodness will likely paralyze me from ordering crabcakes anywhere else.”–Not For Tourists
“Veggie-filled Egyptian artichoke bottoms, crabmeat burgers and kadinbudu kofte (Turkish meatballs) are only the beginning of your choices, and with some unusual beer and wines at the ready one begins to forget how many times they had to circle the block.”–Metromix
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“DINING COMPANION (“girl”) had the crab-burger, but (as Travis Bickle would put it) she “could have had anything on the menu.” I took the lobster ravioli. Her chips (/”fries”) were exquisite and I ate a good part of her burger too which was creamy and globular and semi-liquid.”–Matter Eater L.
“Crab cake Burger- uh-may-zing. It was a great texture, not overpowered by a seafood flavor, and the fries that came with it were also fabulous- great seasoning.”–Amber B.
Another famous, fabulous dish showcasing the wonders of crabmeat–and one that shouldn’t ever be discounted in a state facing the ocean!–is the crab roll, the cousin of the famous lobster roll. It has all the same ingredients for that crisp, summery taste, the blend of mayonnaise, celery, and spices really highlighting the freshness of the crab. And what better place to go for a seafood roll than a lobster shack? Luke’s Lobster is so much more than a “shack,” of course, becoming a favorite in the trendy East Village, and their crab rolls are just as celebrated as the meat in their name. The meat is tender and flavorful, and stays very light on the mayo and seasonings and heavy on the crab. You can pick it up at the flagship store, or a number of their other locations around the city–or follow their “Nauti-Mobile” for a crab roll on the go!
93 E 7th St (between 1st Ave & Avenue A)
“While I love the taste of crab meat, it usually involves a lot of work to be worthwhile. The payoff to work ratio is way too high for me with most crab meat. That’s the beauty of Luke’s crab roll. For $10, they do all the work and you have all the fun. And boy did I have a lot of fun! It’s not the biggest lunch around, but it was very tasty. The roll was basically all crab with only a touch of mayo, and a dash of light herbs on top. Excellent!”–New York Street Food
“The lobster and crab are practically untouched. There’s just enough added (a slather of mayo, squeeze of lemon butter, and a dusting of secret spices and herbs) to intensify and complement the natural deliciousness of the shellfish. I prefer the meaty richness of the lobster to the flaky sweetness of the crab, although I would eat both every day if I could afford it and cholesterol wasn’t an issue.”–Midtown Lunch
“The buns are the proper, squishy, buttered and toasted hot dog sort, and the portions are ample. Most importantly, the sandwiches feature big, lovely chunks of ultra-sweet lobster, or a mounded heap of delicate crab.”–Village Voice blogs
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“The crab roll was awesome. I was just surprised that it was cold. But it’s light, fresh, and so delicious! The bun is lightly toasted with just the perfect amount of butter. My friend and I got a roll for dinner, went out to a bar, and we liked it so much we went back but too bad the place had closed by then. So good!”–Marie T.
“The crab roll is made from a dungenous crab like crab. The combo was $12, the roll itself is $10. I have not had a better crab roll / any kind of seafood roll in my life. I literally said, out loud, “wow” after taking one bite of it. Very light on the mayo / dressing, a touch of butter, lots of crab meat, on a perfectly toasted bun. Could not ask for more. Terrifyingly good.”–Michael L.