(POSTED: April 16, 2006)

Crispy Crab Cakes

500 g (1 lb) fresh crab meat, shredded
3 slices white bread (no crust)
125 ml (1/2 cup) real mayonnaise
15 ml (1 tbsp) Dijon mustard
40 ml (3 tbsp) fresh parsley, chopped
25 ml (2 tbsp) minced chives
1 large egg, beaten
5-10 ml (1-2 tsp) Worcestershire sauce
15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh lemon juice
Salt and fresh pepper to taste
25 ml (2 tbsp) butter
25 ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil

Process the bread in a blender to make fine crumbs.
In a large bowl mix the mayonnaise, Dijon, parsley, chives, egg, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice to combine well. Add the crabmeat, crumbs, salt and pepper and gently mix.
Divide the mixture into 8 portions (unless you want smaller, appetizer size) and using your hands, gently pat them into even sized cakes. Cover with wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Melt the butter with the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the crab cakes and cook for 3-4 minutes per side until golden.  Serve at once with or without a tartar or chutney sauce.

This recipe is quite simple, with readily accessible ingredients and only one little trick: Form the crab cakes gently, patting until just shaped. Too much handling will make them dense with a tough texture.

When preparing the cakes use fresh crab, preferably, and pick it over well to check for shell bits, et cetera.  Use real mayonnaise not (gasp!!!) Miracle Whip.
The latter is much sweeter and will change the flavour of the finished dish entirely.

The steps in the recipe that say to chill the crab cakes for a minimum of 30 minutes before cooking is crucial as it helps the cakes keep their shape and allows flavours to blend together.

When cooking the cakes have the pan almost sizzling. You want a crispy coating and tender inside, and higher heat prevents a soggy coating.  Because the cakes are tender and crisp with a delicate flavour, I like to pair them with an equally light, but flavour-laden salad.

Mesclun, Arugula and Pear Salad with Walnut Dressing
The mesclun and arugula greens have a crisp texture and add a bit of zip to the mix,
and the pear is mellow and sweet. Top that with a rich walnut dressing and some
crunchy walnuts and you’ve got simple and sensational.

750 ml (3 cups) mesclun mix greens
1 litre (4 cups) arugula
3 pears, sliced and cored
125 ml (1/2 cup) toasted walnut pieces

2 ml (1/2 tsp) Dijon mustard
40 ml (3 tbsp) red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
50 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
50 ml (1/4 cup) walnut oil
Mix the salad greens and arrange on a platter or in a bowl. Top with pear slices and walnut pieces.
In a small shaker or bowl combine the dressing ingredients, whisking in the oils in a steady stream last, until well-blended. Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving or serve on the side.

Source:  Pete Luckett

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