I was able to get my hands on some faux crab meat, so I was determined to make something I never actually had during my meat-eating days. Believe it or not, a crab cake. Of course I couldn't make just a standard crab cake, but something with an extra unique twist. Asian flavors dominate this recipe, which is surprisingly amazing and full of seafoody flavor.
Match Ground Crab is really quite the amazing product. I've used their "pork" before with decent results: it didn't taste very porkish, so I was expecting slight disappointment with the crab. As soon as I opened the package however, I knew I had a winner.
Unlike the sticky pasty pork product, the big flaky chunked texture of the ground crab is similar to canned tuna. It's still sticky enough that I didn't need to add any kind of binding for this recipe, which is nice because you can just focus on the flavors. It's also very fishy smelling. If you've ever made faux tuna salad using canned chickpeas, then you're probably familiar with the slight fishy smell they give off when crushed. The ground crab is like that times 10.
The recipe is very simple to make: simply mix everything into a bowl, form patties, and cook. I'd suggest mixing everything together by hand like you would a meatloaf, as it's really the best way to fully incorporate the ingredients (just make sure you clean very well under your nails afterward!). I cooked the patties in a pan to brown them, but I felt they need some additional cooking, so I baked them to achieve a more even browning and firmness. The sauce is also super easy to make. I added an additional tablespoon of peanut butter from the original recipe to really get an extra peanutty and thick sauce.
For this to be my first experience with a crab cake, I was quite pleased. The extremely hearty and meaty patties are fishy, pungent, and just slightly sweet. Sure, they don't taste exactly like crab per se, but they will definitely sate your craving for seafood. Adding some of the sweet, tangy, peanutty sauce to each bite makes these cakes to die for. Together, the dish is surprisingly rich; one cake paired with a side is probably enough for a meal, or go for two as a meal.
Thai Crab Cakes
(adapted from Cooking Light, July 1998)
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well with your hands until well combined; form into a ball. Cover and chill 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350. Divide mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat until hot. Add 3 to 4 patties at a time; cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Repeat with remaining patties. Place patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway through. Serve with Cilantro-Peanut Sauce. Cilantro-Peanut Sauce (adapted from Cooking Light, July 1998)
In a small saucepan, combine balsamic, both sugars, soy sauce, red pepper, salt, and garlic. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Whisk in peanut butter until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Just before serving, stir in cilantro and mint.
Nutritional data (per cake and sauce): Calories 226, Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 1g, Sodium 473mg, Carbs 30g, Fiber 3g, Protein 14g.