PEEKYTOE CRAB ROLLS
THIS SMALL CRAB that inhabits the craggy eastern coastline rocks, and particularly the Penobscot Bay in Maine, weighs often less than a pound. It lay there, underutilized by the rest of the world, until one of my favorite suppliers, Rod Mitchell, owner of the Browne Trading Company, decided to “officialize” its slang name. Often called mud or sand crab or even rock crab, the leggy specimen was branded the peekytoe crab. Mitchell got into his truck, drove to New York, and brought us some to taste. Since that day, it has become our crab of choice.
Because they are so delicate, the crabs cannot be shipped alive, so they have to be cooked in Maine and the shells picked, often by the fishermen’s wives, very carefully. At the restaurant, we pluck the remainder of the minuscule pieces of shells by placing them in a dark room and flashing a black neon light to highlight every speckle of shell.
In this recipe, the slightly tart apple exalts the sweetness of the crab. Since my days at Le Cirque, I have been playing with flaky crabmeat, celery, and apple in new ways every season, and this recipe is a variation of the original combination.