Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Crustacean Celebration: Killer Cakes

It's just one of those things I'm compelled to do. Like the old Lays potato chips line, "Bet you can't eat just one." Or like trying to stop at just one page of cute kitty pictures on I Can Has Cheezburger, it just can't be done.

The delicious mixture.

What am I going on about?

Crab cakes. When I see them on a menu, I have to order them. I'm on a continual quest to find a crab cake that's the freshest, crabbier-than-thou thing I've ever put in my mouth, that's juicy and succulent with just the slightest hint of scallion or celeriac or whatever's been mixed in to pump up the flavor.

Almost ready…

So when I heard that Mark Bittman had a killer recipe for these plump little pillows of delight, and that they were simple to make, I had to try them. And darn if they weren't all their PR said they'd be. So if you're looking for the ideal app for your holiday table or just have a yen for some crustaceous goodness, look no further.

And, by the way, if you're fortunate enough to have one or two left over (or stashed them away before putting them on the table), they're terrific reheated in the oven and topped with a poached egg for breakfast. Just sayin'.

Dungeness Crab Cakes
Adapted from Mark Bittman's indispensable How to Cook Everything
1 lb. fresh lump crabmeat (make sure all cartilage is removed)
1 egg
1/4 c. minced red bell pepper
1/2 c. scallion
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. plain bread crumbs, or as needed
1 c. flour for dredging
1 tsp. curry powder (optional)
2 Tbsp. peanut, olive or vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. butter (or use all oil)
Lemon wedges for garnish

Mix together crabmeat, egg, bell pepper, scallion, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add sufficient bread crumbs to bind the mixture just enough to form into cakes. Start with two tablespoons and use more if you need it.

Refrigerate the mixture until you are ready to use it. (It will be easier to shape if you refrigerate it for 30 minutes or more, but is ready to go when you finish mixing.)

Season flour with salt, pepper (and curry if you like, but with good fresh crab it seems like gilding the lily). Preheat a large skillet, preferably non-stick, over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the oil and butter and heat until the butter foam subsides. Shape the crabmeat into six cakes, carefully dredge each in the flour, and cook, adjusting the heat as necessary and turning once (very gently), until golden brown on both sides. Total cooking time will be about ten minutes or less. Serve with lemon wedges.

Check out these other examples of the crabby-licious goodness that is the Crustacean Celebration at GoodStuffNW: pasta with crab and radicchio; hot artichoke and crab dip; crab crostini; and a company-worthy crab-filled cioppino.


Cathy said...

Looks like a delicious recipe, Kathleen. I've never added curry to my crab cakes but imagine it would be very tasty.

Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Kathleen Bauer said...

The cool thing is that these are mostly crab…you only want to use enough bread crumbs so they barely hold together. And, for me, the curry is OK but extraneous.

Happy and Merry to you, too, Cathy, and thanks for being such a dedicated reader. I appreciate feedback from a master cook like you!