Norfolk Seafood

It is said that Norfolk-style seafood first took shape in the 1920s, when a local restaurant cook sauteed a bunch of crab in an aluminum pan along with butter, a jot of sherry, and a few spices. According to Virginian-Pilot writer George Tucker, the recipe that came to be known as Crab Norfolk actually got written like this: “Melt a piece of butter the size of a hen’s egg in a skillet. When it is hotter than the hinges of hell, dump in half a pound of the best backfin crabmeat. Then add salt and cayenne pepper and a dash each of Worcestershire sauce and cooking sherry for taste. Mix it carefully to avoid breaking up the crab lumps. And when it is sizzling, serve it up.” Beyond the seafood itself (which over the years has gone beyond crab to include shrimp, flatfish, even lobster), the two common elements of Norfolk-style seafood are plenty of butter and using the the pan in which it was cooked as the serving dish. The only possible improvement on this formula is when the crab is joined in its sauté pan by nuggets of Virginia ham.

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