Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Crustacean Celebration: Let Them Eat Cakes

Yet another benefit of writing this blog, as if I didn't already have loads of reasons to keep spouting off, is that it gives me an excuse to ask my friends for their favorite recipes. Then, instead of writing it down on a piece of paper that's going to get tucked into (and lost under) one of the dozens of piles of papers, magazines and books that are scattered all over the house, I get to write it up (with accompanying photos) in this handy searchable database.

That was exactly the case when I was talking about crab with my friend Michel, a wicked cook and the creator of my favorite braised lamb dish ever. I knew she also had a mouth-wateringly delicious-sounding recipe for crab cakes, but we hadn't had a chance to get together to make them. So the blog became the perfect excuse to gather ingredients and have a crustacean celebration of our own.

Michel's Thai-ish Crab Cakes with Apple Cabbage Slaw

Yield: 15-18 small crab cakes

Meat of two Dungeness crabs
1/2 red bell pepper, minced
1/4 c. minced red or green onion
1 serrano pepper, finely minced
2-4 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
1/4 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. grated parmesan
Zest of 1 lime
(Adding some grated coconut and fresh mint or basil is also yummy.)
    Whisk together and add:
    Juice of 1 lime
    1 egg
      Stir crab mixture thoroughly.

      Crumb coating:
      1 c. bread crumbs, preferably Panko style
      1/4 c. grated parmesan

      Combine crumbs and parmesan and spread out on a plate.

      Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.
      Scoop up about 1/4 cup of crab mixture and form into a plump cake about 2-inches in diameter (approx. 1” high). Compress so cake holds together.
      Gently sit cake in crumb mixture to coat bottom and sprinkle crumbs over top to coat (don’t flip the cake or it will fall apart).
      Gently compress cake between your hands to meld crumbs to the crab cake. (Keep cake plump; don’t flatten.)
      Set each formed cake on lined baking sheet.
      When all cakes are formed, place sheet in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
      Heat large sauté pan or griddle to medium-high heat and add olive oil, butter or mixture of both to generously coat pan.
      Gently place cakes in pan or on griddle, leaving plenty of room to turn them.
      Cook until golden brown and turn gently to brown other side, adding more oil or butter if needed.
      If cooking cakes in stages, keep cakes warm in oven until ready to serve.

      I like to serve these with lime slices atop a delicate slaw made of Savoy cabbage, tart green apple tossed with lime (julienned, not grated), thinly sliced red onion, grated carrot and cilantro, dressed with a simple mixture of lime juice, Thai fish sauce and sugar…add a bit of olive oil if you wish. Make slaw about 15 minutes before serving.

      Check out this season's Crustacean Celebration series: Pasta with Crab and Radicchio, Deadly? I Think Not, and The Big Boys Weigh In. See also: last season's series starting with Hot Artichoke and Crab Dip (and links to other posts in the series).

      Top photo by Jon Roberts.

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