Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Crab Cakes

Being in Nashville, we are completely landlocked from the ocean and all the delicious fresh seafood it provides.  Due to this fact, fresh seafood has not always been available until recently.  In the past few years, with the opening of such stores as Whole Foods and Fresh Market, we can now get that delicious seafood without having to thaw it before using!

With this new resource some of my favorites that are so delicious when I visit the beach are new options to make in my own kitchen.  Several years ago, when I really got serious about cooking, I decided to try to conquer some of those seafood favorites that no one who had taught me to cook had ever made in the past.  

First on the list...crab cakes!

I love these little treats!

They always seemed so complicated, so elusive, but then, with a little experience in the kitchen under my belt, I thought I would go in search of a recipe that looked like something I could handle but also tasty and delicious at the same time!

Where do you go to find such a recipe?

One of my family's favorites....Emeril LaGasse!

I had just given my dad several of Emeril's cookbooks so we had been making many of his recipes and had not found one that failed us, so I hopped on the computer and search for his crab cakes recipe. 

A little disappointed, the only recipe I could find was for lobster cakes.  Though that sounded amazingly mouth watering, lobster is a little outside of the budget sometimes, so I started thinking (dangerous I realize) why not just substitute!

So that is what I did.  I have made a few changes to the recipe over the years but all-in-all, thanks to Mr. LaGasse, I was able to bring the delights of the beach to our Sunday dinner table!

Crab Cakes with Tartar Sauce
as adapted from the recipe for lobster cakes by Emeril LaGasse

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 finely chopped yellow onion
2 stalks finely chopped celery
1 seeded and finely chopped red bell pepper
1 seeded and finely chopped yellow bell pepper
4 cloves chopped garlic
2 pounds crab meat, diced
1 bunch chopped green onions, green parts only
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 tablespoon Creole mustard
3/4 cup Easy Homemade Mayonnaise, recipe follows
note: I think this is part of what makes these so delicious but you can use Hellman's if you don't have time to make your own mayonnaise
2 cups dried fine bread crumbs (more as needed)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup bleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
3 large eggs
2 tablespoon water

Melt the butter in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and bell peppers. Season with salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft and slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the lobster meat, green onions, parsley, mustard, mayonnaise, the cooled vegetables and 1 cup of the bread crumbs.  Add more breadcrumbs until you feel the mixture is not too moist (I usually add both cups by the end of it). Mix well.

Divide the mixture into equal portions and form them into 1-inch-thick cakes (patties).  At this point I typically put them in the fridge for a few hours to help them set up which causes them to not fall apart as you cook them.  If you don't have time to do this it isn't a deal breaker, just something helpful to do if you have the time.
In a shallow bowl, combine the flour with 1 teaspoon of the Essence. In another bowl, whisk the egg with the water. In a third bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup bread crumbs and 1 teaspoon of the Creole seasoning.

Heat the remaining 1 cup oil to 360 degrees F in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Dredge the cakes first in the seasoned flour, tapping off any excess, then in the egg wash, letting the excess drip off. Dredge the cakes in the seasoned bread crumbs, coating them evenly.
Gently lay the cakes, 3 to 4 at a time, in the oil and fry until lightly golden, about 4 minutes on each side. 

Allow to drain on a drying rack.
Garnish with parsley and serve with Tartar Sauce

Easy Homemade Mayonnaise:
1 large egg, at room temperature*
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne

Combine the egg and lemon juice in a food processor or blender and process for 10 seconds. 

With the motor running, slowly pour in the oil through the feed tube. 

Stop once the mixture has thickened. 
(If the mixture thickens too much, add water 1 teaspoon at a time to loosen.) 

Add the salt, black pepper, and cayenne, and pulse once or twice to blend. 

Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Note: The mayonnaise can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.  Yield:1 1/4 cups

Tartar Sauce:
3/4 cup Easy Homemade Mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped green onions or scallions (green part only)
2 tablespoons drained sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon drained capers (chopped, if large)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon

In a bowl, fold all the ingredients together. Adjust seasoning, to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, giving the sauce 1 hour to stand before serving for the flavors to marry.

Yield: about 1 cup
Sweet Percy couldn't have one and was NOT happy about it!
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