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it’s deliciously crabby!
My husband always says, “you can tell the best steak house by who makes the best crab cakes”.
I don’t know why he says that, but I do find that, more often than not, it’s true. On a recent trip, we had the opportunity to try crab cakes (and steaks) at two different restaurants; the one with the better crab cakes definitely had the better steaks. But both of the restaurants were just a “bit outside” (to use a baseball term) with their crab cakes and their presentation.
Both restaurants served their crab cakes with a kind of “slaw” under them. Let’s call our restaurants, Restaurant #1 and Restaurant #2.
Restaurant #1′s crab cakes were chuck full of sweet delicious crab; but the slaw, while tasty, was limp. Way overdressed for way too long.
Restaurant #2′s slaw while not too flavorful, was crisp, offering a nice contrast to the soft crab cakes, that unfortunately were filled with more filler than they were of crab. So they were kind of a crappy crab-less cake.
Whenever Dungeness crab is in season, I try to use it fresh in as many delicious ways as I can; crab cakes are always a favorite, and there are so many ways to make them. I always like to have the crab “shine” so I stay away from too many binders and fillers.
Remember, if you can’t find fresh crab, you can make these crab cakes with a fine quality canned crab meat, found in the refrigerator section or seafood counter of your supermarket. Do not use the canned crab found in the aisles of the supermarket…never, ever, unless you are just mixing it with some sour cream to make some sort of dip.
I make a pretty decent steak, so I thought I would take a stab at making a better crab cake, filled with crab, along with a flavorful crispy slaw to serve it with. This recipe for Crab Cakes with Mango Slaw and Lemon Vinaigrette would make an impressive first course for a dinner party, or make it for 4 and have a nice light lunch. Either way, it’s deliciously crabby! Did I succeed? Well, I think I did…
In a small saute pan, heat the oil, add the minced peppers and saute until just softened. Allow to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the crab meat, pine nuts, tarragon, parsley, cooled bell peppers, green onion, mayonnaise, lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the panko. Mix together well. (It should just hold together). Form into 8 balls, and roll in remaining panko to coat. Flatten slightly into disks and fry in olive oil until browned, turning once. (Because these are so full of crab, avoid turning more than once so they don't fall apart). Set-aside.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Combine the slaw ingredients in a large bowl, pour the dressing over and toss to combine. (This can be made up to a day in advance to allow the flavors to "marry" but is still excellent fresh).
To serve: Place a mound of slaw on a plate; set a crab cake jauntily askew and serve with a fresh slice of lemon, if desired.
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