At my local grocery store the other day, a group of customers surged around the fish counter. ‘I’ll take three,’ one man said. ‘Heck, at that price, I’ll take six!’ Behind the counter a huge iced stack of Dungeness Crabs was being scooped into plastic bags.
I looked into my basket at the gathered lasagna makings and calculated. Lasagna today, crab tomorrow? Or…. The woman to my right, whose eyes were brown and sharp through retro-framed glasses, made up my mind for me. ‘Dude,’ she said, lowering her glasses at me. ‘When you see fresh Dungeness at a price like this, you buy it.’
So back at Chez Bullhog, in amongst the present wrapping and the package – well, packaging. In amongst the card signing and the tree trimming, I found some time to pick a pile of crab. After all, I thought, with the young woman’s voice ringing in my ears, ‘tis the season!
Curried Crab Cakes
Makes 8 crabcakes
10 ounces crab meat, picked clean
1 cup + ¼ cup breadcrumbs
4 spring onions
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
1 teaspoon medium curry powder
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon canola oil
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon butter
1. Cut the bottom 5 inches off the green onions, trim off the root and slice lengthwise in quarters. Chop finely so that onion pieces are the size of a grain of rice. You should have half white bits and half green.
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the crab, 1 cup of breadcrumbs, mild curry powder, the onions and the salt and pepper. Toss together like a salad so that the crab pieces don’t disintegrate. Now break two eggs over the top.
3. Sprinkle half of the reserved breadcrumbs onto a dinner plate. Plunge your fingers through the yolks of the eggs and distribute the wetness of the egg throughout the mix. In the same way you’d make meatballs, gather the crab mix into balls about the size of golf balls, flatten them a little on your palms, and place them on the dinner plate. Make 8 cakes, adding some or taking some away as necessary to make them equal in size and crab distribution.
4. Clean off your hands. Sprinkle the rest of the crumbs over the tops of the crab cakes, and finish shaping them on the plate. Sprinkle the tops with half the medium curry powder and then turn the cakes over to sprinkle with the rest.
5. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon butter over medium heat in a 12” frying pan. Fry 4 minutes on each side, adding the extra oil and butter when you turn them. Serve hot with Yogurt Aioli (recipe below).
Yogurt Aioli: In a small bowl, combine 3 Tablespoons yogurt, 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise, ½ teaspoon salt, a few grinds of black pepper and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Blend until smooth, and then whisk in a small pressed garlic clove if desired. Serve over crab cakes.