Imitation Crab Crepes Mornay

On a recent Sunday, when neither my wife nor I felt the need for a big Sunday dinner, I suggested that we try imitation crab crepes. When I searched for recipes on the web, I found plenty of crab and seafood crepe recipes, but they all called for real crab, shrimp, scallops or lobster. I like all of those treasures from the sea, but they are expensive, and we had just indulged ourselves at a nice restaurant the night before.

Since we enjoy an excellent Seafood Fettuccine that uses imitation crab or lobster, I thought that crepes with imitation crab would be worth trying. I was right, and imitation crab is about one-tenth the cost of the real stuff. Just give it a try.

One particularly nice thing about crepes is that you can make them in advance. Crepes keep well for a few days in the refrigerator or frozen for a couple of months. Microwave them for a few seconds before filling and rolling them. Cover them with sauce and bake them until the sauce is hot and bubbly. When you bring them out with a relaxed smile on your face, your guests will think you are a master chef.

If you don’t have any crepes in your fridge or freezer, you need to make some before starting the crab filling. Here is our recipe. Do this at least an hour before you plan on putting the crepes together.

Once you have ten crepes made, you can prepare the filling and make the Mornay sauce.

Mornay sauce is Béchamel (white sauce) flavored with cheese. This variety of Mornay sauce uses Swiss and Parmesan cheese, which goes well with seafood. Americans eat a lot of Mornay sauce without realizing it. They just call the dish “Mac and Cheese.” The Cheddar cheese used for macaroni and cheese gives a different flavor than the Swiss and Parmesan, but the creamy goodness is the same.

Here are the ingredients for filling eight to ten crepes.

8 oz. imitation crab
1 tsp. minced parsley
1- 2 scallions (a generous tablespoon chopped)
1 tsp. lemon juice

Here are the ingredients for the sauce.

2 cups milk
2 T butter
3 T all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 to 3 drops hot sauce (optional)

PROCEDURE:

Chop the imitation crab into a quarter-inch dice and put it into a medium mixing bowl. Wash and mince the parsley and add it to the meat. Clean and chop one or two scallions into eighth-inch rounds. Put the onion into the bowl with the meat. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and mix everything together.

Preheat the oven to 375º while you make the sauce.

Heat the milk until it is hot but not boiling. While the milk is warming, melt the butter in a one and one-half-quart sauce pan, blend in the flour, salt and pepper and cook the roux (the mixture of flour and butter) for about three minutes over low heat. Stir often with a wooden spoon. You are making a white sauce, so be careful not to brown the flour.

Use the spoon or a whisk to blend the hot milk with the roux. Raise the heat slightly and stir until you have a smooth, creamy sauce. The sauce should just come to a simmer and not boil. Cook for about three minutes after the sauce has started to thicken.

Gradually stir in the grated cheeses and taste the sauce. If your tastebuds tell you to do it, add a drop or two of hot sauce.

Stir half of the sauce into the meat. Grease a seven by eleven-inch glass baking dish.

Working on a plate, spread a scant two tablespoons of the meat mixture in a row on a crepe, roll it up and place it seam side down in the baking pan. Continue until all the crepes are in the pan. Spoon the rest of the sauce over the crepes.Seafood Crepes Mornay

Bake uncovered for about twenty minutes until the sauce is bubbling and begins to turn slightly brown in a few spots.

Serve with a green salad and glass of white wine as a light dinner or lunch for three to four people.

Shrimp and Broccoli Stir Fry

I don’t like to peel raw shrimp. For me, peeling and deveining shrimp ranks above eating a pomegranate, but not by much. That’s why I use peeled cooked shrimp in my recipes. Purists and gourmets will object, and I am sure that they are right, but I don’t like to peel shrimp. Taking off the tails of cooked shrimp is enough work. and people keep asking for seconds, so the things I make must taste pretty good anyway.

Maybe one reason people are cooking a bit less often today is that more people than we realize share my distaste for peeling shrimp. I complained every time I had to peel shrimp for a dish I love, Shrimp Etouffée, LINK until one day I substituted frozen cooked shrimp which I decided produced the same wonderful flavor of the original and saved me a half hour’s tedious labor. I hope that this confession encourage others to make some shrimp dishes that they have been avoiding.

I put this recipe together to make it as quick and easy to make as possible. You don’t need to mince the garlic or ginger or cook the shrimp ahead of time. You just stir the sauce ingredients together, wash and chop the broccoli and onion into pieces and pull the tails off the shrimp. Of course you have to cook the rice, but that takes about two minutes of actual preparation time. While the rice is simmering in the covered pan you are making the stir fry.

You will end up with a delicious dinner low in fat, calories and carbohydrates in half an hour.

INGREDIENTS:

2 T soy sauce
1 1/2 T oyster sauce
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
2 T water
1/2 tsp. instant chicken bouillon
1/4 tsp. powdered garlic
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
2 tsp. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/8 tsp. chili pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 T vegetable oil
3 cups broccoli florets
1 small onion (about 2 inches in diameter)
12 oz. cooked medium shrimp
1 scallion (optional)
Dash of salt (optional, to taste)
1 cup white rice
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt

PROCEDURE:

Make the sauce first. Combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, ginger, vinegar, water, bouillon, brown sugar, sesame oil, pepper flakes (if you wish) and cornstarch. Whisk everything together and set the sauce aside.

Thaw the shrimp if necessary, remove the tails and set the shrimp aside in a bowl. Clean and chop a scallion into thin rings if you wish and set them aside in a small bowl. Wash the broccoli and separate three cups of florets. Cut the stem and root ends from the onion, remove the dry outer layers and slice it vertically. The safest way to do this is to cut the onion in half lengthwise, then cut each half into thin strips lengthwise.

Rinse the rice and bring two cups of water and the salt to a boil in a one quart pan with a tight-fitting lid. Stir in the rice and bring the pan back to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, put the lid on and allow the rice to cook until the water is all absorbed. Do not remove the lid for the first fifteen minutes. Turn off the heat and fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Once the rice is cooking, put a tablespoon of oil into a wok or large skillet over moderate heat. Stir the broccoli and onion into the oil and cook for about two minutes, then add the shrimp and continue cooking and stirring another two minutes. Pour the sauce over the shrimp and vegetables and stir until the sauce thickens and everything is warm.

Serve over the rice and garnish with the scallion rings if you wish. Freshly baked bread goes well with this dish.

NOTES: Some time ago I read an article about how chefs use parts of vegetables that a lot of people throw away. One example is the thick stems of broccoli. I now trim the cut ends of the broccoli heads from the store and chop the stems into pieces that will cook along with the florets.