- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2007

For Two’s Company cooks who don’t live in a coastal area, crabmeat is more of a fantasy than a dinner ingredient. The options are either astronomically priced or a mediocre quality.

That’s changing. Many supermarkets are offering reasonably priced pasteurized crabmeat available in one-pound cans at the fish counter.

Unlike the bland shelf-stable products sold elsewhere in the supermarket, this crabmeat is sweet and packed as big chunks that you can get your teeth into. This is the crab you’ll want to use if you’re making a festive meal for two.

Because the product is pasteurized, which means the crab is heated in the can to a temperature high enough to kill dangerous bacteria, it can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks. Once the can is opened, however, the crab should be eaten within a few days.

That’s shouldn’t be an obstacle if you’re a crab lover.

Start with crab cakes, a delicate blend of crabmeat, seasonings and just enough bread crumbs to hold everything together. Follow that with an entree salad of crab, tomatoes and avocado. Or how about crabmeat sprinkled over steamed asparagus and topped with a little mayonnaise? The options are mouthwatering.

For the crab cake recipe given here, use pasteurized canned crab claws or flaked crabmeat. Don’t substitute shelf-stable canned crab. If you need to make a switch, buy 8 ounces of raw, shelled shrimp and finely chop the shrimp before forming into cakes.

Crab cakes with avocado salsa

Avocado salsa (recipe follows)

½ pound flaked crabmeat

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1/4 teaspoon prepared white horseradish

½ teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3 to 4 tablespoons bread crumbs

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoons vegetable oil

Lemon wedges

Prepare avocado salsa and set aside while making crab cakes

Combine crabmeat, egg, shallot, horseradish, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix gently but well. Slowly mix in crumbs, adding enough so the mixture can be formed into cakes.

Heat butter and oil together over medium heat in large skillet. Barely fill a 1/4 cup measure with crab mixture; don’t pack down. Turn out into skillet and gently flatten with a spatula.

Repeat to make 6 crab cakes. Cook for 3 minutes per side over medium heat, or until crab cakes are golden and firm.

Remove from skillet. Garnish with lemon wedges; add avocado salsa on the side and serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

AVOCADO SALSA

½ medium ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon minced hot jalapeno chili (see note)

½ cup frozen thawed corn kernels

1 tablespoon minced scallion, green part only

1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine avocado, chili, corn, scallion and cilantro in a small bowl. Stir together oil and vinegar in a cup. Pour over avocado mixture and toss gently but well. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 2 servings.

Note: If chili isn’t hot, add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes to the salsa.

Bev Bennett is the author of “30-Minute Meals for Dummies” (John Wiley & Sons Inc.).

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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