Saturday, September 19, 2009

No Mayo Crab Cakes -- Not Local But Really Good

Photo (Lexi Van de Walle): No Mayonnaise Crab Cake served with Local Arugula and Tomatoes

Last week, I trekked down to the Chinatown supermarket on Canal which is a haul from the Upper West Side and bought Vietnamese Fish Sauce (Nam Pla) specifically to make the
Thai Crab Cake Recipe that was featured in the New York Times recently by Mark Bittman.

When I found myself at Cor-J's Seafood Market in Hampton Bays on Saturday I realized that I left the Nam Pla sauce in the City, but not my craving for homemade crab cakes. NOTHING LOCAL about them -- unless you live in Maryland -- which is why I call myself the "lighthearted locavore". Hey, a woman can't go through life in New York and Long Island without crab (or shrimp)!

Bittman discovered a way to make crab cakes using pureed shrimp (or pureed scallops) as a cake binder eliminating the need for high calorie mayonnaise -- GENIUS!!!

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RECIPE - adapted from Mark Bittman

Nothing Local Low Calorie Crab Cakes

6 medium, raw shrimp, deveined
3 tablespoons chopped onions

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
20 drops of Tabasco sauce or other hot sauce

1 pound fresh crab meat, preferably wild and from the US

1 egg, local

Salt and Pepper
3 tablespoons bread crumbs, made from fresh, local bread if you can
Flour for dredging

Canola oil
Lemons or limes

Puree shrimp, onions, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco Sauce in a food processor. In a large bowl, pick through crab meat and remove cartilage. Gently stir puree together with the cleaned crab meat, egg, salt and pepper, and bread crumbs.

Place mixture in the freezer for about 10 minutes -- this will help the mixture set so you can make burgers or cakes that won't fall apart (Bittman suggested 30 minutes in the fridge but I was too hungry to wait -- the freezer method worked).

Make four burgers or cakes and press them so they are all the same size and about one inch thick. Dredge the cakes in flour, seasoned with salt and pepper.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add canola oil. When the oil is hot, add the crab cakes and cook until golden brown or about 5 minutes on each side. Carefully remove from pan and serve with lemon or lime wedges.

HISTORY
Lee and Perrins Worcestershire sauce is a fermented fish sauce made from anchovies. Similar to
"garam" which is the ancient Roman fish sauce, Worcestershire Sauce is the English version of Vietnamese Nam Pla and Roman garam. In Rome, garam was made from rotted fish, typically anchovies or mackerel. First used in 7th or 8th century BC, Garum production was a large source of revenue in ancient Pompeii. Used by slaves and emperors alike, garum was a popular flavor used daily like salt.

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