Nothing says summer quite like cucumbers, English cucumbers that is. While these aren’t grown in England, per se, they are slightly different from your garden variety cucumber. Usually grown in a hot house, the cucumber is suspended from the vine where it can grown straight down without the traditional curve of a garden cucumber. These cukes have been bred to have fewer and smaller seeds with less of the gelatinous liquid that surround the seeds. Since they are sold wrapped in plastic, they are not waxed to prevent water loss during shipment as is the garden cucumber which must either be peeled or abrasively scrubbed to remove most or all of the peel and wax.
English cucumbers are significantly narrower than their garden variety counterparts which make them perfect for use in appetizers. A ¾-inch thick slice is a mouthful, instead of two, or three. The flesh is noticeably firmer than regular garden cukes meaning they can hold up to stuffing. And stuffing is exactly what we’re planning to do with these refreshing summer vegetables.
Let’s not hold back here. Let’s stuff them with Crab Louis, or Louie, if you prefer. Succulent jumbo lump crab meat shines in this cool and creamy salad. And it perfectly balances with the barely there subtle flavor of the cucumber. The textures also work well together. The crisp, clean flesh of the cucumbers provides a nice snap while the soft flesh of the crab and creamy dressing have a luscious mouth feel that satisfies the appetite.
Jumbo lump crab meat is best for these canapés, but backfin works fine as well. In either case, the crab meat must be thoroughly rinsed and picked through to remove any bits of shell and cartilage. No one wants to eat shell, especially not your guests. Simply pour the crab meat into a fine mesh strainer and feel through the pieces while you rinse them. A five minute process makes all the difference between disappointing and delightful. Treating the crab gently also helps. We don’t want huge pieces of crab meat, but we would like to be able to identify it in the salad, so fold it in last, after everything else has been smoothly combined.
If the summer heat is wearing you down and the solstice has barely passed, consider adding these cool, crisp and tasty cups to a light evening meal.
Cucumber Cups and Crab Louis
- 1-2 English cucumbers, peeled into stripes, cut into ¾-inch thick rounds
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 3 ounces cream cheese, very soft
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
- 12 ounces pasteurized crabmeat
- ½ cup red bell pepper, diced very finely
- 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- salt and fresh ground black pepper
- grape or cherry tomato wedges
- lemon zest for garnish
Using a melon baller or a dessert spoon, carefully scoop out some of the seeds to make a well in each cucumber slice. Do not scoop all the way to the bottom.
Using a whisk, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup, chili garlic paste and worcestershire sauce until smooth. Stir in the chives and bell pepper then fold in the crab meat. Do not overmix. Taste and then adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Spoon a tablespoon of the filling into each cucumber cup. Top with a tomato wedge and garnish with lemon zest and additional chives.