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I grew up with lobster rolls. After all, my mom is from Ipswitch, Massachusetts, pretty much the epicenter of Lobster Roll Nation. I’d never heard of crab rolls.
Then, one day, I wandered into Obrycki’s in search of food during a layover in Baltimore-Washington airport. Crab rolls were on the menu. OK, I’ll bite. I ordered them.
“Good call,” the bartender said. They’re my favorite. Sure they are. Everything’s your favorite when you’re the bartender. I expected a glob of mayo-based crab salad in a tired hot dog bun.
An Obrycki’s crab roll is not that. Yes, there’s mayonnaise, and yes there is a bit of celery, and the obligatory Old Bay seasoning — I think it’s the law to include it with any crab dish within 150 miles of the Chesapeake Bay — but this sandwich (can you call something on a hot dog bun a sandwich?) was all about the crab.
While not as minimalist as a New England lobster roll, which can literally be buttered lobster in a split-top roll, this crab roll is full of crab with only the Old Bay-lemon-mayo to tie it all together. Celery is a minor addition entirely for texture, not a filler.
I wrote notes about this amazing lunch on a napkin, determined to reverse engineer it at home.
This is what I came up with. While probably not the exact Obrycki’s crab roll, it’s close, and really good. I used Dungeness crab because that’s what I had, but any crab will do. Obviously they use blue crab in the Chesapeake.
Oh, and good luck finding split top rolls outside of New England, and that’s one thing I won’t buy online. Just use a good quality hot dog bun, or something else that makes you happy. I won’t come to your house to beat you up if you used, say, a kaiser roll or even a tortilla.
Just make these crab rolls. They are easy to put together, cool on a hot summer day, and absolutely memorable.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 pound lump crabmeat
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- 1 stalk celery, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 hot dog buns
- Toss the crabmeat in the melted butter. Mix all the remaining ingredients except for the buns in a large bowl. Fold the crabmeat into this.
- Grill or toast the buns; you can spread some butter on the buns first if you'd like. Fill with the crab mixture. Serve with pickles and potato chips.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.