- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2005

There are two schools of thought when it comes to crab cakes. One argues that anything standing in the way of pure crab pleasure is extraneous and should be eliminated.

The second takes the view that a few additions, such as minced vegetables, binders and — Dare I say? — bread crumbs, make for a tastier dish.

I admit to tinkering with crab-cake recipes. Otherwise, I might as well eat a dish of flaked seafood. A few judicious additions enhance crab’s delicate flavor and simple texture. The trick is to achieve balance so no one ingredient stands out.

My formula is part colorful vegetable, part bread crumbs and part binder, using both mayonnaise and egg. You can vary the vegetable according to what’s in season. This time of the year, baby bell peppers and corn are readily available and are delicious additions.

I recommend using both mayonnaise and egg in the recipe to keep the crab cakes from falling apart and to make the dish richer. Unfortunately, crab is very expensive, so look for sales on lump or flaked crabmeat. Don’t substitute canned crab. It’s often salty and watery. Instead, try the following recipe with minced raw sea scallops or shrimp. Canned salmon, flaked and drained, is also a tasty substitute. Serve corn and crab cakes with onion and potato salad for a lovely and delicious spring dinner.

Corn and crab cakes

½ cup fresh corn kernels (from 1 small ear corn)

8 ounces flaked crabmeat

1 red, yellow or orange baby bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)

2 tablespoons mayonnaise (reduced fat OK)

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon minced chives

1 dash cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons coarse bread crumbs

1 tablespoons butter

2 lemon wedges

Combine corn, crabmeat, bell pepper, mayonnaise and egg in a bowl. Stir gently but well to mix. Stir in chives, cayenne, salt, pepper and bread crumbs.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Pack crab mixture into 1/4 cup measure and turn out onto skillet. Press down to form a ½-inch-thick crab cake. Repeat to form a total of 6 crab cakes. Fry for 3 to 5 minutes per side, turning over gently. Serve with lemon wedges. Makes 2 servings.

Onion and potato salad

2 small-medium red potatoes

Salt

4 baby onions preserved in olive oil (see note)

1 rib celery, trimmed and chopped

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons chopped Italian parsley

Place potatoes in a small saucepan with salted water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook 35 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Dice potatoes; peeling is optional. Place potatoes in a salad bowl. Coarsely chop onion and add to potatoes. Add celery and walnuts. Stir together 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, oil and vinegar. Pour over potato mixture. Garnish with parsley.

Makes 2 servings.

Note: Oil-preserved onions are available in Italian sections of supermarkets and supermarket salad bars. Otherwise, substitute 1/4 cup chopped fresh red onion for a slightly different flavor and texture.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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