NW Yachting May 2018

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s p i T e k a C b a r C FROM TOM DOUGLAS Seattle-based celebrity chef Tom Douglas chimes in with crab cake advice. Often described as the chef who put Seattle on the culinary map, Tom has earned national recognition, including the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurateur in 2012.

Crabmeat: The most important thing is to use crabmeat that’s best and freshest in your area. Here in Seattle, we make our crab cakes from Dungeness, using the body, leg, and claw meat.

Draining and Squeezing Crabmeat: Dungeness tends to be wet. Before you make crab cakes, drain the crabmeat in a sieve. Gently squeeze the crabmeat with your hands to remove excess liquid and at the same time feel for any bits of cartilage or shell and remove them. Don’t go overboard squeezing your crabmeat because you don’t want to squeeze out all the flavor or make it too dry.

Mixing and Handling: Mix gently. Crabmeat is graded and priced on the size of the lumps. It’s a treat to find some nice, intact lumps of crab meat inside your crab cake, and you don’t want to smash them up by overmixing. Fold the crabmeat and the dressing together with a rubber spatula as if you’re folding whipped cream into a mousse.

Salting: Some Dungeness is very salty. Taste your crabmeat first and adjust the salt in the recipe accordingly.

Chilling Crab Cakes: Once shaped, most crab cakes will be easier to handle if you chill them before cooking. You can put them in the refrigerator, leaving them right in the pan of crumbs and covered with plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes, or for several hours, or even overnight. Another idea is to refrigerate the crab mixture first, then scoop and crumb the cakes right before you cook them.

Forming Crab Cakes: A two-ounce ice cream scoop with a release lever is the perfect tool for shaping a classic 2½- to 3-ounce cake. Lightly pack the scoop with the heel of your hand and release the cake directly into the pan of bread crumbs. Press the crumbs around the cake while you’re shaping it into a disc.

Cooking Crab Cakes: The easiest way to tell if a crab cake is cooked and hot all the way through is with an instant-read thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the center of the cake and if the temperature reads 145°F, you know your crab cake is fully cooked. Turn the crab cakes only once while cooking. Flip flopping them is likely to break them apart and you won’t get a nice crust. When you cook the crab cakes, use a good, seasoned cast-iron pan, or a shiny stainless steel sauté pan such as an All-Clad or a KitchenAid, or a pan with a nonstick surface.

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will receive an annoying $10 fine if you miss the deadline. They can be returned online or can be dropped or mailed to the WDFW. To a fisherman or recreational crabber, these cards can seem like a bit of a pain, but they provide valuable data about the state of Dungeness crab populations in Puget Sound. These cards are used to estimate the recreational harvest for the upcoming year. By submitting your data, you are helping ensure decisions made by fisheries managers are as accurate as possible. Being as accurate as possible also includes submitting cards when you caught zero crab! It may be painful to admit you got skunked, but fisheries managers are equally concerned, if not more so, by instances when someone has tried to go out crabbing or fishing and didn’t catch anything. As I’ve had it hammered in to me many times as a fisheries science graduate student— zero is not the same as no data; zero is a number! By having accurate data, this prevents two situations from potentially happening: overharvesting of Dungeness crabs, resulting in a damaged stock for future recreational or commercial fishing; or, unnecessary conservative restrictions and limits of fishing, which wouldn’t allow for people to take full advantage of a public resource. Fisheries managers are constantly attempting to strike that Continued on Page 110

MAKE TOM DOUGLAS’ DUNGENESS CRAB CAKES:

GREEN COCKTAIL SAUCE:

Adapted from I Love Crab Cakes by Tom Douglas (Morrow, 2006). Makes 8 crab cakes (serves 4 to 8 depending on whether you serve 1 crab cake or 2)

Adapted from I Love Crab Cakes by Tom Douglas (Morrow, 2006). Yields 2/3 cup

1 pound Dungeness crabmeat, drained, picked clean of shell, and excess moisture lightly squeezed out if your crabmeat is very wet ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise; preferably Hellman’s or Best Foods 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest ¼ cup minced scallions, white and green parts

½ teaspoon kosher salt ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper ½ cup panko bread crumbs, plus 2 cups more for dredging (see note) 5 tablespoons unsalted butter Green cocktail sauce (see recipe) Lemon wedges

To make the crab cakes, put the crabmeat, mayonnaise, lemon zest, scallions, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix everything together gently with a rubber spatula. Add the ½ cup of panko and mix again. Pour the remaining two cups of panko into a shallow container. Form the crab mixture into eight patties. Pat them gently into shape without pressing them too much. Drop the patties into the panko and turn them to coat both sides, patting to shake off the excess. If you have time, you can let the crab cakes chill in the refrigerator an hour or more before frying. When you are ready to fry the crab cakes, preheat the oven to 450°F. Put two large non-stick skillets over medium-high heat and add about two and a half tablespoons of butter to each pan. As soon as the butter is melted, add four crab cakes to each pan. Leave the pans on the burners for a minute or slightly less (the butter should not be starting to brown), then place the pans in the oven. Cook the crab cakes until they are heated through and golden brown on both sides, about 12 minutes, carefully turning them with a spatula about halfway through the cooking time. Remove the pans from the oven and transfer the crab cakes to plates. Serve with the green cocktail sauce and lemon wedges. Note: Panko or Japanese bread crumbs are coarser than ordinary bread crumbs and stay nice and crisp when fried. Panko can be found in Japanese fish markets and in many large supermarkets.

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8 ounces tomatillos, husked, rinsed, dried, and quartered 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar 1 tablespoon sugar 2 teaspoons green Tabasco 1 teaspoon chopped garlic 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, toasted (see note) 1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh horseradish Put the tomatillos in the bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely pureed. Remove the tomatillo puree to a sieve, drain off the liquid, and discard. Put the drained puree in a bowl and stir in the vinegar, sugar, green Tabasco, garlic, mustard seeds, and horseradish. Note: To toast spices, place them in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, shaking or stirring constantly, just until they are lightly browned and aromatic.