Just in case you're not tired of crab yet
Have you had your fill of fresh crab yet? Didn’t think so.
Below are recipes for two different crab cakes and a delicious soup. But first, consider this simple twist on whole crab, which is a roasting with garlic butter, as done down in Napa Valley at one of my favorite restaurants, Tra Vigne in St. Helena.
Tra Vigne’s Roasted Garlic Crab
Serves 4 to 6 people (depending on appetites)
Make sure you use very fresh Dungeness crabs, which means either boiling live crabs in your own kitchen, or obtaining fresh-cooked crabs from a reliable source where they can assure you they were cooked and cleaned on the very same day you are buying them.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 fresh-cooked and cleaned, cracked Dungeness crabs
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons finely minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup minced Italian Parsley
Stir together the mayonnaise, lemon juice and chili powder; set aside (refrigerate if holding longer than 30 minutes).
In a 12- by 17-inch roasting pan, combine the butter, oil and garlic. Heat the mixture in a 500-degree oven just until hot, about 2 minutes. Add cracked crab pieces; stir to coat all pieces. Return the pan to the oven and roast just until the garlic is golden and the crab is hot, about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle minced parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice over hot crab and pan juices; stir to coat all pieces.
Spoon the crab pieces and pan juices onto a large platter for family-style dining, or arrange pieces of 1 crab on each of 4 dinner plates. Garnish serving with parsley sprigs and lemon wedges. Serve immediately with the seasoned mayonnaise and warm, crusty French bread.
— Recipe from the editors of Sunset Magazine and Sunset Books
Classic Crab Cakes
Makes 4 to 8 servings
1/3 cup finely minced yellow onion
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons minced green onion
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Green Tabasco sauce
dash cayenne pepper
1 pound fresh Dungeness crab meat (two 2-pound crabs should yield about 1 pound of crab meat), picked over for bits of shell
1 cup dry bread crumbs
Saute the onion in the butter in a saute pan until softened, about 3 minutes; set aside. Meanwhile, soak the soft bread crumbs in the cream. In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs until frothy. Add the softened bread crumb mixture. Stir in the sauteed onions and butter, along with the parsley, chives, mustard, Tabasco, cayenne and salt and mix well. Fold in the crab meat. Shape into 8 cakes, each one about 3/4-inch thick. Dust each crab cake on both sides with the dry bread crumbs; chill until ready to cook.
When ready to serve, fry the crab cakes in hot vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat until golden brown on both sides. Serve immediately.
Crab Cakes a la Commander’s Kitchen
A New Orleans classic that’s been around since the late 1800s. Commander’s Palace is located in the Garden District of the city.
1 pound fresh-cooked Dungeness crab meat (two 2-pound crabs should yield about 1 pound of crab meat), picked over for bits of shell
2/3 cup good-quality mayonnaise
Several dashes Tabasco sauce
About 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup Creole mustard (or other course-ground mustard)
2 teaspoons capers, drained and coarsely chopped
1/2 hard-cooked egg, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
Salt and additional freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning mix (available in spice section of most supermarkets)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups corn kernels (see note below)
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and membranes removed, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
Optional garnishes: 1 green onion, finely chopped; fresh thyme sprigs
To prepare the crab cakes, place the crab meat in a bowl, breaking it up as little as possible. In a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise with the Tabasco and 1/8 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, mustard, capers, egg, horseradish, salt, additional black pepper and creole seasoning. Scrape the mayonnaise mixture into the bowl with the crab and gently fold the mixture together to combine, taking care not to break up the crabmeat if possible.
Divide the crab mixture into 8 portions and shape each one into a somewhat round shape about 2-1/2 inches in diameter.
Preheat a nonstick pan or a seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter, but don’t let it smoke. Using your finger and a small spatula, gently place four of the cakes into the skillet. Cook the crab cakes for 1-1/2 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn them over and cook for another 1-1/2 minutes or until golden brown. Using the spatula, move the cakes to a sheet pan and place in a warm oven. Repeat until the entire mixture is used. About halfway through, discard the butter and wipe out the pan with a paper towel and use the second tablespoon of butter.
While the crab cakes are cooking, prepare the Corn Accompaniment (it could also be prepared ahead and gently reheated). Melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet, add the corn and jalapeno into the pan and saute, stirring constantly, seasoning with salt and pepper. When the corn is heated through and tender, about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, stir in the remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons of butter and the minced thyme. Cook until the butter has melted; season to taste.
Serve one crab cake per person for an appetizer portion, two for an entree. Spoon some of the corn mixture over the top of each cake, sprinkle with the green onions and thyme garnish, if desired.
NOTE ON CORN KERNELS: During winter and spring, use a good quality frozen white corn (try to find the bags that indicate the corn is “IQF,” meaning individually quick frozen; avoid the boxed corn); when corn is in season locally, use freshly shucked corn kernels from about 6 ears.
— Recipe adapted from “Commander’s Kitchen,” by Ti Adelaide Martin and Jamie Shannon.
3/4 cup butter
2 cups minced yellow onion
1 medium carrot, minced
1/2 cup minced celery
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning (check your local fish counter)
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
2 cups whole milk
2 cups half & half
1/4 cup Madeira or dry sherry
1/2 pound fresh Dungeness crab meat (one 2-pound crab should yield 1/2 pound of crab meat) picked over for bits of shell
Salt and additional white pepper to taste
Melt the butter in medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and saute until soft. Reduce heat to medium and add the flour, whisking constantly until smooth. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, whisking frequently to keep the flour from scorching. Stir in the parsley and seasonings, then gradually whisk in the milk and half & half, stirring constantly. Add the Madeira, crab meat and salt to taste, and simmer gently for about 15 minutes; do not boil. Serve hot. If bisque seems thicker than desired, stir in half & half or milk to thin.
— Adapted from “Cooking with Bon Appetit; Soups and Salads”
Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, artist, and author of “Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit,” and four other cookbooks. Readers can contact her by email at email@example.com, or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at www.janrd.com.