Sunday, July 27, 2014

Crabby in California

Kasey's Kitchen Assistant Contributor Jen here! In light of KK's trip back east, I wanted to share a simple recipe that brings west coast vibes to an east coast-inspired dish.

I'm originally from Maryland and it's no secret that Marylanders love their blue crabs and season just about EVERYTHING with Old Bay. Some of my favorites include scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, popcorn, corn on the cob, french fries - the list could go on! Having Old Bay seasoning back in Maryland is just as staple as the salt and pepper shakers on your kitchen table.

Since moving to the Golden State, I was happy to find out that the seasoning can be found at grocery stores here and if you can't seem to find it in the spice aisle, try checking out your local Asian supermarket. I've also heard rumors of it being available in Costco, but I haven't had the chance to check that out for myself.

For this recipe, it's certainly not a make or break deal if you don't have it. A simple seasoning of salt and pepper with a kick, or two, of cayenne pepper would be just fine. (Please note: that isn't a replication of the sacred Old Bay. Some have ventured into recreating it and their recipes are worth looking into, but in my clearly unbiased opinion, I just don't think it can be done.)

Digging in to Maryland blue crabs over a table blanketed by newspapers, leaving my hands smelling like crabs for days, is a fond summer pastime, but I also enjoy indulging in the less-messy, fork-in-hand crab cake.

My recipe sort of California-fies the basic make-up of a crab cake and I've paired it with a flavorful avocado sauce. Getting your hands on lump crab meat from the seafood section of the grocery store might be the only expense here; everything else is probably already in your pantry/fridge, and the preparation seriously couldn't be any easier. I'd also like to point out that what I have listed below is really a blank canvas - you are totally open to swapping out ingredients, adjusting what I have listed to your palate, or even making shrimp or salmon cakes if you want!

Avocado sauce:
1 avocado
1 jalapeno, roughly chopped, seeds removed
1-2 cloves of garlic (I used 2 because I love garlic.)
Juice of 1 and 1/2 limes
Roughly a 1/3 cup of olive oil (or more, depending on how runny you want the sauce to be)
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Crab cakes (yields about 4 hamburger-patty-sized cakes):
1 tbsp. of olive oil
8 oz. of lump crab meat
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, diced
3.5 oz of plain Greek yogurt (I used 1/2 of a 7 oz. container of Fage)
1 tbsp. of dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lime
1 sandwich Ziploc bag filled about 2/3 of the way with tortilla chips (I know, super technical here.)
1 egg
1 tsp of Old Bay seasoning, adjust to taste
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped

For the sauce:
Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and homogenous. Set aside in refrigerator to chill until served. (See? Easy.)

For the crab cakes:
With the Ziploc bag filled 2/3 of the way with tortilla chips, crush them up into crumbs.

Combine the tortilla crumbs with the rest of the ingredients, minus the olive oil, into a mixing bowl. Divide the mixture into four equal parts and form them into patties.

Drizzle the olive oil into a frying pan and fry the patties over a medium high heat - about 4-5 minutes per side, or until a crisp, golden-brown color.

Serve it up with some lime wedges and the avocado sauce either on the side or dolloped on top, with a side salad or some steamed vegetables. Stick it between two buns and you've got your self a crab cake sandwich! The possibilities are endless.