Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spring Rant & Crab Cakes

Late spring is a fantastic time for foodies who love to cook by the seasons. The summer harvest is a few short weeks away and the markets are beginning to overflow with magnificent seasonal produce. May was garden month which marks planting season though many delicious things are hitting markets now like radishes, rhubarb, spinach, and strawberries. Late spring is great for other goodies like the ubiquitous spring lamb and one of my personal favorites, soft-shell crabs. These tasty little crustaceans are a difficult food to get you used to if you are a finicky or easily spooked eater, eaten whole after molting their hard shell. The blue crab is the soft-shell species primarily eaten in the United States and the Chesapeake Bay shared by Maryland and Virginia boasts the best. I have been eating a lot of the little beauties recently though never at home for some reason. In fact I have never cooked with crab which is as much of a shame as it is alarming. My mother was in town for one night on her way to the airport last Sunday, the perfect opportunity to try my shot at a dish that I crave all to frequently; crab cakes.

Three ingredients form the core of any good crab cake and serve as a springboard to your imagination; crab meat, egg, and breadcrumbs. I totally improvised these particular crab cakes using jumbo lump from Maryland and a combination of fresh breadcrumbs and panko. I threw in some fresh herbs, shallots, mayonnaise, Dijon, and hot sauce to jazz things up a bit and tossed the ingredients together carefully to keep the pieces of crab intact. I browned them under the broiler until golden and crisp, warming their rich centers while melting all the yumminess within. I then drizzled each one with some classic French remoulade; a mayonnaise based dressing that I packed with fresh tarragon. My homemade crab cakes came out well; crisp and delicate with a strong crab flavor and crunchy texture. I served them alongside some blanched asparagus dressed simply with melted butter and lemon juice to round out the meal. My mom was impressed that I had the derring-do to make crab cakes in the first place and commended me on my work, even reaching for seconds which is always a positive sign. As always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

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