You have already heard from Melissa how much I like crab. In my opinion it’s the king of all crustacean and mollusk seafood: both more tender and flakier than lobster (and doesn’t demand that you dip it in butter to enjoy) with a mildness of flavor makes it great for mixing in many dishes from salads, to soups, to pasta. While Melissa was in New Haven for spring break, we made Maryland crab cakes, my go to recipe for entertaining. In the past, I have made these with freshly caught crabmeat (when it’s not too cold to take a canoe out on the water and catch some crabs with chicken and a net). But for now, we use fresh store bought lump crab (which, by the way, is worlds easier than digging the meat out of the shell yourself!). We pair these cakes with roasted Brussels sprouts which are just as easy to make and a great compliment to any lemon-spritzed seafood. Remember when you try these on your own that cooking is better when shared, and especially handy if you stupidly burn yourself on a hot skillet… Be careful!
Roasted Garlic Brussels Sprouts
8-10 Brussels sprouts, peeled and halved
Splash olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 425 F. Heat a small all-metal skillet over medium heat with a generous splash of olive oil. Peel the outer leaves of your Brussels sprouts then remove the bottom stalk and cut them in half. Place Brussels sprouts in the skillet cut-side down. After 1-2 minutes add diced garlic to the skillet and disperse. After another 3-4 minutes salt and pepper the sprouts, then place them in the oven. In approximately 10 minutes they will be browned but not burned. In the meantime prepare the crab cakes (recipe below). When removing the skillet from the oven to be careful with the hot handle and remember that it is still hot wherever you place it. Serve the Brussels sprouts drizzled with balsamic vinegar (it’s an excellent match for the lemon juice in the cakes).
Maryland Crab Cakes (makes 4 cakes)
200g lump crab
50g panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp mustard powder
pinch of salt and pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
A few sprigs of parsley, roughly chopped
Splash olive oil
Place a large nonstick skillet with a splash of olive oil over medium low heat. Add the lump crab, panko breadcrumbs, and roughly chopped parsley in a medium bowl. In a small bowl on the side, whisk two eggs, mayo, and a 1/2 teaspoon of mustard powder along with a pinch of salt. Fold the egg mixture into the crab gently with a spoon. Add black pepper and the juice of 1/2 a lemon if desired and mix. Divide the crab mixture into four round cakes with your hands and gently drop them into the skillet. Wait 4-6 minutes until you can see the bottom of the cake browning around the edges. Flip and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. (Use the spatula to slightly compress the cakes so they cook evenly all around.) Remove from the heat and serve immediately with some lemon wedges for garnish.
I recommend pairing the above recipes with couscous or rice. A meal this fancy demands to be enjoyed with a champagne toast and dessert!