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Crab battle extends to local restaurants
By Dave Cathey
| Published: January 30, 2013
The foods of Baltimore and San Francisco are well-represented by several local Oklahoma City's restaurants, which you might want to check out before the big game.
Crabcakes are fairly easy to find, and the Crab Louie isn't too uncommon either. But if you're not cooking at home, you might also consider another favorite from San Francisco: Cioppino.
Forget Rice-a-Roni, Cioppino is the true San Francisco treat. This Italian-American seafood stew was born and raised by late-19th-century Portuguese and Italian fishermen from the North Beach section of San Francisco from daily catches of Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce, and served with toasted bread, either sourdough or baguette.
The new Saturn Grill in MidTown, 1012 N Walker Ave., spins a terrific version of the dish. Chef Joseph Royer said adding Cioppino to the menu came almost accidentally as he looked for ways to make efficient use of ingredients.
“It's one of my favorite dishes,” Royer said. “So, when I was thinking about what simple, delicious dishes to add to the menu, Cioppino was kind of a no-brainer.”
The Cioppino at Saturn Grill is a succession of heavenly spoonfuls of rich tomato broth with fresh herbs, scallops, shrimp and mussels. It comes with a crusty baguette slice that you'll use like a crouton, soaking up the goodness.
Saturn Grill isn't open Sundays, so swing by ahead for true taste of San Francisco before the big game.
If you're looking for crabcakes, I always recommend Rococo Restaurant and Fine Wine, which has locations at 2824 N Pennsylvania Ave. and 12252 N May Ave. on the north end of Northpark Mall.
Chef/owner Bruce Rinehart developed the recipe based on his years of experience working for Legal Seafoods on the East Coast.
“We have Chesapeake Bay blue crab flown in from Maryland daily,” Rinehart said. “Nothing against crab from other places — some of them are great. But to make a proper crabcake, these are the only thing we use.”
When the crabcake arrives, it won't resemble a flattened hush puppy in appearance or flavor. Instead, a mound of lump crab meat, delicately dancing with a couple of kinds of crackers and topped lightly with breadcrumbs, will arrive fresh after a brief interlude in the oven.
Served with a Thai chile cream sauce and field greens, each bite is dominated by crab — delicious crab. The end will come sooner than you want, not because it's small but because there is no way to get enough of a good crabcake. Rinehart said he will close for dinner for the “national holiday” but will be serving Crabcakes Benedict with 48ers Dust for brunch Sunday at the N Pennsylvania location.
“I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan, so there's no way I'm rooting for the 49ers,” Rinehart said.
He said you can come by before the game, and if anyone is interested in having crabcakes at home, he can put them together for you with instructions on how to finish them at home.
If you're looking for an all-inclusive culinary trip that includes flavors of Baltimore, San Francisco and host-city New Orleans, there's one restaurant to consider: Pearl's.
Pearl's Oyster Bar, 928 NW 63, offers crabcakes, Crab and Shrimp Louie Salad and Cioppino, plus the Cajun and Creole specialties they've offered for close to three decades.
Pearl's is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
The Hal Smith concept Hefner Grill, 9301 Lake Hefner Parkway, serves a Crab Louie using blue crab rather than Dungeness, so one could encapsulate the whole Baltimore vs. San Francisco crab debate in one simple salad. Hefner Grill is open 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.