Imitation Crab Crepes Mornay

On a recent Sunday, when neither my wife nor I felt the need for a big Sunday dinner, I suggested that we try imitation crab crepes. When I searched for recipes on the web, I found plenty of crab and seafood crepe recipes, but they all called for real crab, shrimp, scallops or lobster. I like all of those treasures from the sea, but they are expensive, and we had just indulged ourselves at a nice restaurant the night before.

Since we enjoy an excellent Seafood Fettuccine that uses imitation crab or lobster, I thought that crepes with imitation crab would be worth trying. I was right, and imitation crab is about one-tenth the cost of the real stuff. Just give it a try.

One particularly nice thing about crepes is that you can make them in advance. Crepes keep well for a few days in the refrigerator or frozen for a couple of months. Microwave them for a few seconds before filling and rolling them. Cover them with sauce and bake them until the sauce is hot and bubbly. When you bring them out with a relaxed smile on your face, your guests will think you are a master chef.

If you don’t have any crepes in your fridge or freezer, you need to make some before starting the crab filling. Here is our recipe. Do this at least an hour before you plan on putting the crepes together.

Once you have ten crepes made, you can prepare the filling and make the Mornay sauce.

Mornay sauce is Béchamel (white sauce) flavored with cheese. This variety of Mornay sauce uses Swiss and Parmesan cheese, which goes well with seafood. Americans eat a lot of Mornay sauce without realizing it. They just call the dish “Mac and Cheese.” The Cheddar cheese used for macaroni and cheese gives a different flavor than the Swiss and Parmesan, but the creamy goodness is the same.

Here are the ingredients for filling eight to ten crepes.

8 oz. imitation crab
1 tsp. minced parsley
1- 2 scallions (a generous tablespoon chopped)
1 tsp. lemon juice

Here are the ingredients for the sauce.

2 cups milk
2 T butter
3 T all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 to 3 drops hot sauce (optional)

PROCEDURE:

Chop the imitation crab into a quarter-inch dice and put it into a medium mixing bowl. Wash and mince the parsley and add it to the meat. Clean and chop one or two scallions into eighth-inch rounds. Put the onion into the bowl with the meat. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and mix everything together.

Preheat the oven to 375º while you make the sauce.

Heat the milk until it is hot but not boiling. While the milk is warming, melt the butter in a one and one-half-quart sauce pan, blend in the flour, salt and pepper and cook the roux (the mixture of flour and butter) for about three minutes over low heat. Stir often with a wooden spoon. You are making a white sauce, so be careful not to brown the flour.

Use the spoon or a whisk to blend the hot milk with the roux. Raise the heat slightly and stir until you have a smooth, creamy sauce. The sauce should just come to a simmer and not boil. Cook for about three minutes after the sauce has started to thicken.

Gradually stir in the grated cheeses and taste the sauce. If your tastebuds tell you to do it, add a drop or two of hot sauce.

Stir half of the sauce into the meat. Grease a seven by eleven-inch glass baking dish.

Working on a plate, spread a scant two tablespoons of the meat mixture in a row on a crepe, roll it up and place it seam side down in the baking pan. Continue until all the crepes are in the pan. Spoon the rest of the sauce over the crepes.

Bake uncovered for about twenty minutes until the sauce is bubbling and begins to turn slightly brown in a few spots.

Serve with a green salad and glass of white wine as a light dinner or lunch for three to four people.