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.