Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dungeness Crab Cakes

After a few nights of fresh crab, straight from the shell, I craved something a little more complex.
Since we had a chance to grab a few things from the store - I decided to go for crab cakes.
This was particularly ridiculous since I have never even made them at home.

However, a boat provisioned for sandwiches and salads has everything you need for crab cakes - if you can get your hands on an egg.
These will make very loose crab cakes - more crab, less cake, but they are delicious, and the sort of wonderful, ridiculous thing to do in a surfeit of crab.

Dungeness Crab Cakes... I didn't know until now,
but I've been dreaming of this all year!
Cruising Crab Cakes
(this recipe is proportional.  The recipe works with about 1 heaping Cup of picked crab body meat.  Multiply the proportions for the amount of crab you have.)

Left over bread from previous crab nights, or other bread - toasted until crunchy
                    - or - several plain, Saltine type crackers.
A chunk of onion a little bigger than your thumb, chopped fine
1/3 a red bell pepper, chopped fine
A small handful of parsley -or- half a stalk of celery, chopped fine
(When you are done, all the chopped vegetables should come to less than half the volume of the crab meat)
1 lemon or lime (optional, but very nice)
Salt - to taste
Mayonnaise - amount to be determined
1 egg

Toast the bread until it is crunchy.  Crush it (or the crackers) to crumbs.  You should aim to have approximately as much crumbs as vegetables.
I do the crushing it in the bottom of my broiler pan with another rectangular pan I have on board that fits inside.  Another excellent method is to place the bread in a tea-towel or zip-top bag (with all the air pressed out), and smash it with a sauce pan.  This is an excellent job for idle crew.

Stir together the crab, crumbs, all the vegetables, a sprinkle of salt, and squeeze in the juice from half of your lemon/lime.  Start by adding 1 or 2 tsp of  mayonnaise.  Taste for seasoning - add more salt or lemon as needed.  I do this by hand to get a feel for the mixture.
Then take a handful, and squeeze together.  If it completely falls apart, add a bit more mayo, until it *barely* holds together.

Crack the egg into the mixture, stir that in, and let the mixture sit at least 15 minutes to let the bread crumbs soak up a little more liquid.

Form crab cakes between the palms of your hands, just before you cook them.  They should be the size that your hands make when you gently cup them together, and be no thicker than your hand.  (You really can make them any size you want of course...)


The crab is already cooked, so really you are just frying the egg and the bread to get it all to hold together - and taste more delicious.  This means a quick pan fry - and very gentle flipping.

Heat equal parts butter and oil - enough to *completely cover* the bottom of your skillet/flat bottomed wok in a thin layer.  Don't skimp, or the bread crumbs and egg can't do their jobs.
Making sure each cake has plenty of room around it, place as many cakes as will fit.
Watch one cake, and, as it begins to get brown and crispy on the bottom, flip it, and it's pan buddies over - Very Gently!
Don't be dismayed if a few fall apart.  You will get better at handling these with practice.
These are, after all, much more crab than cake.

Some salad on the side, and a glass of white wine makes this, with the view, an occasion you dream of 11 months and 20 days of the year.

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