Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Crabby Ideas

Cristina asked:  “Dungeness crab season is here. I don’t like to eat them whole, so I buy the meat right here off the boat in Ilwaca, never frozen. Do you have a suggestion for a gratin, in individual one portion dishes? I have a dinner coming up and thought to serve that as an appetizer. Have eaten so much of it in salads and crab roles, need a change. Thanks”

LindySez: Dungeness crab is so sweet, I love it when it’s in season.  I have a couple of suggestions; these can be made with Dungeness or any nice lump meat crab.  Use whatever is local to you…

I invented this one for a dinner party.  While you could serve it without the caviar, I highly recommend you use it.  It adds a nice depth of flavor and special occasion feel to it.  This goes beautifully with a nice off dry Rose Brut Champagne or Sparkling Wine.

Smoked Salmon and Crab Cakes with Caviar

  • 2 ounces smoked salmon, lightly flaked (not Norwegian style lox, but the Alaskan cold smoked kind)
  • 6 ounces lump crab meat (I use Dungeness crab) , checked for shells*
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced fine
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced fine
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dill weed, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seafood seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups panko, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream, or creme fraiche
  • 1 ounce fine quality caviar

  1. Saute the bell pepper and onion in a small amount of neutral oil until softened (I use grapeseed oil). Allow to cool.
  2. Cream together the cream cheese and mayonnaise in a medium to large bowl. Add minced green onion, dill weed, tarragon and Old Bay. Stir in cooled pepper/onion mixture. Gently fold in the crab meat and salmon, being careful not to break it too much.
  3. Add about 3/4 cup of the panko, gently fold into the mixture until it just holds together; do not add too much of the panko.
  4. Form patties with the mixture (the size will depend on if you are making these as a first course or an appetizer). Put the remaining panko in a wide bowl and coat both sides of each crab cake.
  5. Heat a neutral oil in a large skillet over medium heat and fry each cake until browned on both sides, turning once.
  6. To Serve: Place a dollop of sour cream and caviar on each cake.
  7. *LindySez - The easiest way to find shells in shelled crab is to place the crab meat into a large, oversized metal bowl. As the crab hits the bowl, if there is a shell, you will hear it hit and can find it and remove it. After all the crab is in the bowl, toss the crab around a few times by shaking the bowl, this will alert you to any shells you may have missed.
  8. Per Serving (as a first course): 155 Calories; 6g Fat; 12g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 58mg Cholesterol; 323mg Sodium.
Or, if you want to stay with the gratin idea, you could certainly put this pasta dish in individual gratins.  Made in advance (I love to make EVERYTHING in advance);  sprinkle the top with some buttered toasted  bread crumbs (I would use Panko) and they would be ready to pop in the oven to heat up and serve once your guests arrive.  Or even fold the crab meat  into your favorite Mac n Cheese; an ultimate comfort food.  These would be great with a  Chardonnay.

Gemilli with Crab in a Light Lemon Sauce

Gemilli with Crab in a Light Lemon Sauce

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced laterally
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups light cream
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (zest first, juice second)
  • 1 pound crab meat, picked through for any lingering shells
  • 1 pound Gemilli pasta (I like the shape, but you could use shells or bow-tie pasta), cooked according to package directions, well drained, 1/2 cup pasta water reserved
  • Finely chopped fennel fronds (the feathery leaves)

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the fennel and saute until softened. Add the ricotta and cream, stir together until just melted. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, crab and cooked pasta. Stir together until well combined (be gentle when stirring to keep the crab as intact as possible), adding some pasta water if the mixture seems to dry. Sprinkle with chopped fennel leaves and serve.

Baked Crab Mac n Cheese

LindySez: I hope that helps Aunt Cristina.
To all – my aunt is a marvelous cook and entertainer.  Her guests are in for a lovely evening.

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