Looking for the perfect pescetarian recipe to kick off your Valentine´s day meal? Whether cooking for yourself, a friend or your lover, these crab cakes will go down a treat!
Love is in the air!
February, what a relief! We´re no longer in January, which is always a bit glum, and anti-climatic after Christmas and the New Year. February brings the first signs that spring is on it´s way, and then of course there´s Valentine´s day! Food and love! So much has been written about this relationship over the years. To me there’s no doubt about the connection between the two. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the love of my life is a professional chef. For me there is a great attraction to a man who can feed me well. And that he does. On request! I love cooking almost as much as him, so I thought we would fight over our kitchen at home, but it’s become my domain! The thing is, he is busy feeding people in his cosy little restaurant, the last thing he wants to do is come home and cook for me!
Nothing displays love better than preparing a meal for the people who are important to you. I was trying to decide what to cook for Valentine´s day. Mentally, I ran through all my seafood dishes and decided this special meal had to contain crab (we´re both cancerians after all). I do love crab meat, but don´t often cook it. For me it´s a nice treat and I´ve wanted to share these crab cakes with you guys for ages.
Feeling a bit rusty on my ´crab skills´ I phoned a friend Sarah, who´s a fantastic chef. She´s had a lot more experience cooking crabs than me (you can check out her website here). First, she quizzed me on what type of crab I was going to use. Apparently it´s a sacrilege to use whole fresh crab in crab cakes (such a waste of that delicate flavoured meat to shred it, then fry it)! We talked about fresh, and tinned crab meat, before settling on these frozen crab claws. If you don´t fancy the hassle of smashing crab shells and extracting the meat, you can buy it pre prepared (just make sure it is from a sustainable source).
She then asked me what I was going to use to bind the crab cakes together? Forget egg, apparently these red potatoes, after being microwaved, peeled and grated make a fantastic binding agent. They turn all sticky and glue-like! A nice little tip I thought I would pass on to you dear people.
Red skinned potatoes, microwaved for 3-4 mins, peeled and then grated. They act as glue!
Crab is a great source of protein (which is used for tissue repair in the body). Crab contains almost as much protein as red meat, but with much less saturated fat (yay)! It contains a lot of Omega-3 and is rich in vitamins and minerals. Like a lot of shellfish, contains high amounts of selenium, which is a much needed antioxidant for our defence system.
To prepare, make the Sweet chili tomato sauce in advance.
300g crab claws (or 150g shredded cooked crab meat)
1 red pepper
2 spring onions, chopped
parsley, small bunch chopped
50g Panko breadcrumbs
2 medium red skinned potatoes
fresh ginger, 1 thumb sized piece, peeled and chopped
1 tsp black sesame seeds
40g edamame beans
watercress leaves to decorate
Salt & pepper
Sunflower oil for frying
Preheat the oven to 180º.
Follow the steps in how to julienne a pepper until you have a flat rectangular piece of pepper. Using a heart shaped cutter, cut out pieces of pepper and place them on a baking tray. Bake them for around 20 minutes, until they start to soften and brown slightly.
Heart shaped pepper, baked in the oven
The crab claws were thawed in the fridge over night. I boiled a big pan of water (with a little salt) and dropped the claws in, to boil for 4 minutes. Once out of the pan, I plunged them into iced water to stop them cooking anymore and to help the flesh to shrink away from the shell. I put the claws into a plastic bag, covered it with a tea towel and smashed it with a hammer, to break the shell. I then extracted the meat, taking care to remove any little bits of shell.
Beautiful white crab meat, extracted from the shell
Microwave the potatoes for around 3 minutes, peel and grate them. Put them into a bowl. Add the crab meat, spring onions, parsley, sesame seeds and season with a little salt and pepper.
Mix well by hand, until the mixture forms a large sticky ball.
Use the heart shaped cutter to form the crab cakes. Pour the Panko onto a small plate and roll the crab cakes, until they are covered in breadcrumbs.
This recipe made 8 crab cakes
Don´t worry if you don´t have a frier (like me). Heat about an inch of sun flour oil in a frying pan, until it´s hot. Drop in the crab cakes, be careful as the oil may splash.
Fry on each side, until golden brown
Fry them for a few minutes, until golden brown, then flip them over for another 2 minutes. When cooked, put them onto some kitchen towel to drain off the oil.
Crab cake, cooked with golden brown breadcrumbs
Garnish the crab cakes with the pepper, edamame beans, watercress, and serve with the sweet chili tomato sauce. What a lovely starter to get you in the mood!
A tasty starter, for that special meal