Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Simple Crab Cakes and Red Pepper Sauce

Because crabs look like evil aquatic spiders (and I am very afraid of all arachnids), I get plenty of satisfaction from naming the crabs (for instance, this Christmas I ate Willy) and then plunging them into their boiling deaths. But don’t think I am too sadistic; the humane thing to do is to chill them. This puts your sea friends in a comma. Here, they can dream about pinching humans and roaming the ocean floors finding that hottie crab they saw yesterday.
I enjoy Dungeness crab, the pride of San Francisco. For the freshest crab, I recommend scouring the coastline, and heading away from the city limits. We get our crab fresh off the boat in Bodega Bay. Firstly, they taste so fresh and secondly this is much more humane than keeping them in holding tanks for weeks on end. I mean despite my dislike for them, I know that I would not want to be stuck in a room full of other crabs. On the first day that we get the crabs, we steam them and then roast them with garlic and ginger. Finger licking good! But, with the leftover crab, we take the succulent little meat out of their shells and make the most delectable crab cakes I have ever tasted.
The problem with the majority of crab cakes is that there is very little crab. Our recipe is all crab with just a little breadcrumbs, parsley, red pepper and egg for binding. We keep it simple allowing the crab to be the star. We try to keep the crab in lumps in order to get nice meaty pieces. And we make a red pepper sauce, which is super quick and easy to dollop on top. This sauce is a nice complement to the sweet crab and makes a delicious garnish.

Simple Crab Cakes

2 ½ cups crab (in good chunky pieces)
¼ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons parsley
2 eggs beaten
Salt and pepper to taste

Add breadcrumbs, red bell pepper, parsley and salt and pepper into a bowl containing the crab. Incorporate the beaten egg. Use more breadcrumbs if too loose. Or add more egg if to dry. This is your judgment call. But the true test is if they can form patties. Also remember: adding too many breadcrumbs will result in a more pasty crab cake and take away from the delicious crabbiness (not the state of being). Then, form the crab mix into 10 patties about 5 inches in diameter. But this is your preference. If you are serving them as an appetizer, make them bite size. Place them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Place another sheet of wax paper over them and then refrigerate them for an hour (more is fine). If you are rushed for time, a half hour will do, but don’t blame me if they fall apart. After chilling, and removing from the fridge, heat a large skillet with olive oil on medium heat. Place your crab cakes into the skillet, making sure to allow space between them for even browning. Keep the temperature on medium, (NOT HIGH), you want to be sure the egg is cooked all the way through. Flip them when brown on first side about 5 – 10 minutes depending on your stovetop. After both sides are brown, serve immediately with red pepper sauce. (Recipe below)

Red Pepper Sauce

I make this sauce while the crab cakes are chilling

1 onion thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers thinly sliced.
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil if necessary

Heat a skillet with olive oil to coat. Sauté red peppers and onions till soft and slightly caramelized (at least 15 minutes). Make sure to season with salt and pepper while cooking. After cooking, put in food processor and puree. Depending on the thickness of the puree, add olive oil until it forms a thick sauce. It really looks more like a puree. Re-season if necessary. Serve a dollop on top of each crab cake.

Enjoy the bounty that these aquatic spiders have to offer!

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