Crabby Cakes

by Jeanne

Crab01wDungeness crabs are unique to the west coast of North America, and reportedly take their name from a small fishing community on the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Washington state.

The coast of Northern California and on up into Washington State has been home to commercially fished Dungeness crabs since the 1800s, with the present fishing season from December through April.  This year the season opened early and coincided with the release of the new Beaujolais.  After checking to see if I could eat without guilt over at the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch  (seriously eating here in the Bay Area can get challenging) I decided it was time for crab cakes. 

One thing to understand here is that I’m a New England gal.  I can do many things with lobsters that non-New Englanders wouldn’t even consider.  I’ve been known to crack other people’s lobster with the skill of a chiropractor (payment excepted in lobster meat!).  So fresh crabmeat is somewhat of a new culinary endeavor.

After an early morning (read as ‘pre-tourist crawl’) down at San Francisco’s Pier 49 I returned home with a ‘culinary compromise’–a just-steamed crab.  I set about cracking the crab.  This was a lot of work.  I prefer tangoing with a lobster.  I was in a nasty mood after the effort.  But I was determined to make the following recipe — Calypso Crab Cakes.  The recipe is from America’s Most Amazing Brunch Host, Camilla Saulsbury.  Given that she lives in Indiana I’m pretty sure she wasn’t cracking no fresh steamed crab before guests arrived. 

Photo: Waterfront Crab Crawl, by J. Brophy (c’est moi)

Calypso Crab Cakes with Fresh Mango-Papaya Relish
2001 Winner Post Selects Brunch Contest America’s Most Amazing Brunch Host
Camilla Saulsbury of Bloomington, Indiana

3 Tbsp. KRAFT Mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 Tbsp. grated lime peel, divided
4 tsp. fresh lime juice, divided
1-1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
12 oz. crabmeat
1/3 cup chopped roasted red pepper
2 cups POST SELECTS Great Grains Crunchy Pecan Cereal, crushed
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup diced mango
1/2 cup diced papaya
3/4 cup chunky salsa
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine

MIX mayonnaise, 1/2 of the cilantro, 1/2 of the lime peel, 1/2 of the lime juice, ginger, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in large bowl. Add crabmeat and red pepper; stir until combined. Stir in cereal. Stir in egg yolks (mixture will be soft) until well blended.

FORM crab mixture into eight 3/4-inch-thick cakes, using generous 1/4 cupful for each. Coat cakes with flour on both sides; shake off excess. Beat egg whites until foamy and brush on both sides of cakes. Coat with breadcrumbs. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

MEANWHILE, mix mango, papaya, salsa, remaining cilantro, remaining lime peel and remaining lime juice in medium bowl; set aside.

MELT butter in heavy large skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches, cook cakes about 4 minutes per side or until golden brown and heated through. Serve hot with mango-papaya relish. Makes 4 servings.

Great Substitute: Make relish with only mango or papaya or try adding another tropical fruit such as chopped pineapple.