Chef David Lentz serves this addictive sandwich—filled with sweet Dungeness crab, spicy romesco sauce, and crisp fennel salad—at his Hungry Cat restaurants in Hollywood and Santa Barbara, California. This recipe first appeared in our April 2011 special Sandwich Issue with celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio and Sisha Ortuzar's article Chef's Special.
For the Crab Cakes
- 1 cup finely crushed unsalted crackers, such as saltines
- 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. Worcestershire
- 1 tsp. Tabasco
- 1 egg
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 lb. Dungeness crab meat, drained
For the Aïoli, Romesco, and to Serve
- 2 egg yolks
- 2⁄3 cup plus 5 tbsp. canola oil
- 1⁄3 cup plus 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic, mashed
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1⁄2 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 slices (about 1 oz.) country white bread
- 1 (14-oz.) jar roasted red peppers, drained
- 3⁄4 cup toasted hazelnuts
- 1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- Hot paprika, to taste
- 4 square ciabatta buns, split
- 1 cup loosely packed arugula
- 1⁄2 small bulb fennel, thinly sliced
- 1⁄4 small red onion, thinly sliced
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
Make the crab cakes: Combine crackers, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire, Tabasco, egg, salt, and pepper; add crab and gently stir until combined. Form four ¾″-thick patties and transfer to a plate. Cover with plastic wrap; chill until ready to use.
Make the aioli: Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl; as you whisk, slowly drizzle in 2⁄3 cup canola oil and 1⁄3 cup olive oil until mixture is emulsified and thick. Whisk in 1 tbsp. lemon juice, garlic, salt, and cayenne; cover and refrigerate.
Make the romesco: Combine vinegar and bread in a food processor; let sit for 10 minutes. Add red peppers, hazelnuts, 3⁄4 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice, black pepper, salt, and paprika; process until slightly chunky. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.
For the sandwich: Heat 1 tbsp. canola oil in a 12″ nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add reserved crab cakes and cook, turning once, until browned and heated through, 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
Heat a 12″ cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the cut sides of buns with ½ tbsp. oil and grill until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Spread aioli on both halves of buns; place a crab cake on the bottom halves and top with romesco sauce. Toss arugula, fennel, and onion in a medium bowl, and divide between sandwiches. Cover with top halves.