The Quest for the Perfect Crab Sandwich

BaguetteMy quest began simply enough about five years ago. On vacation in Cannon Beach, Oregon, my husband and I wandered into the Wayfarer Restaurant. While enjoying the magnificent view of Haystack Rock, I stumbled on the one menu item I had to have. It was listed quite simply. “Crab Sandwich.”

When it arrived, it was the perfect combination of sweet dungeness crab baked with melting local cheddar cheese, a hint of garlic and herbs, and a buttery, chewy, crunchy baguette. Combined with a glass of Sokol Blosser Evolution, a crisp, tropical white wine, it was heaven. I was sad when it was gone.

On my return home, I decided it would be easy to recreate in my kitchen. Unfortunately, while I got several of my tries close, I could never quite get it right. It was, however, a fun five years of trying. We returned frequently to Cannon Beach, which is just down the road aways, and every time we were there, I stopped by on my super secret taste test quest.

I am happy to report that, on Monday night, to the delight and joy of my family, I got it exactly right, and maybe, just maybe, even a little better than the Wayfarer. If you’d like to try out the Wayfarer’s crab sandwich, stop by the next time you are on the Oregon Coast. If that’s not in your schedule, here’s the recipe I spent five years attempting to steal recreate.

Crab and Cheddar Sandwiches

Per sandwich you will need:

  • One small sandwich baguette or part of a large baguette, sliced lengthwise but not quite all the way through (like a hotdog bun)
  • Three to six ounces of lump crab meat. If you don’t want to clean it out of a crab yourself, I buy the fresh lump crabmeat in a container in the fish section of my local Top Foods.
  • One tablespoon each plain cream cheese and herbed cream cheese (or a little bit of Boursin herb cheese)
  • Three tablespoons of Plugra butter, melted
  • One clove of garlic, pressed through a garlic press
  • 2-3 tablespoons of shredded Tillamook medium cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter, and combine with minced garlic.
  3. Brush butter on both sides of baguette, and place on a baking sheet.
  4. In a small bowl, combine both types of cream cheese until well mixed.
  5. Drain crab and toss with cream cheese.
  6. Place crab mixture in baguette.
  7. Sprinkle with cheese.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, until cheese is melted and filling is warm.

Serve the sandwiches with a simply dressed salad of greens and a crisp white wine such as Sokol Blosser Evolution or an unoaked Chardonnay. At the Wayfarer, they serve it with pommes frites, thin sliced and crispy with a hint of garlic and salt. It would also work well with Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris (or Grigio), or an American sparkler such as Argyle’s fantastic Blanc-de-Blancs (an all Chardonnay sparkling wine) or vintage Brut. While I enjoy this sandwich with Dungeness crab, I am sure it will work equally well with your local favorite. Just make sure when  you eat the sandwich, you step away from all distractions and really take the time to enjoy it.

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