I'm a very lucky man.
I have a great team of people at work who are fun to be around, and who love what they do.
The kitchen team at Lifestyle Da Nang are a positive bunch and they're always keen on trying new things and developing new recipes.
My Sous Chef, Mr Thach, is an absolute legend.
He's responsible for our outstanding roast ducks, great Vietnamese food, and our sushi offerings, but also runs the Western a-la-carte.
I'm always running around talking about 'fresh is best' and asking for great-tasting fresh seafood concepts that would work well at the resort.
We're right on the beach, and with Azure Beach Lounge opening in March, Thach thought that these crab cakes would hit the spot.
He was right. They're delicious.
In the typical Maryland crab cake style, light, moist flakes & lumps of crab meat are bound lightly with mayonnaise, capsicum, onion and herbs.
They're passed through flour, egg and breadcrumbs, then pan fried with a little butter and some shallot oil.
we chose to serve them with a fresh ripe mango salsa and a horseradish dressing, but once you've mastered the concept of the recipe, feel free to pair them with Asian flavours, Western flavours, Middle Eastern flavours, or whatever you like.
Crab cake recipe
1kg live crabs (should give around 250g to 300g meat – about 9.5oz)
30g diced onion (1 oz)
15g crushed garlic, fresh
15g chopped red chilli (large, low/medium spicy)
20g red capsicum, finely diced
20g green capsicum
1g freshly crushed black pepper
50g Kewpie mayonnaise
20g Panko crumbs (or large, coarse, dry bread crumbs)
15g Corn starch
180g plain flour with salt and pepper mixed through
4 eggs beaten
120g Panko crumbs for coating
These are best made and served fresh. You do sacrifice quality and taste if you freeze them, keep the crabs over night or use frozen crab meat.
If you have access to fresh or live crabs, this is an outstanding way of serving them.
Get some fresh local crabs. That normally means live.
Yes, you can use "chicken of the sea' or some generic can of crab meat, or frozen crab meat, but it sort of defeats the purpose.
Fresh crab meat is light, sweet and clean tasting. No oozing liquid, damaged cells or fishy aroma.
You'll 'identify' the taste, texture and smell of crab that is processed or preserved compared to fresh, so this is a nice dish to make when you have access to live crabs.
We're cooking and serving our crab cakes right next to the ocean that the crabs are pulled out of….and it's a nice feeling.
Having said my bit on crab freshness, please experiment with different types of crabs. Most work well.
I've used swimmer crabs, spanner crabs, mud crabs (black crabs), 'ghe' sea crabs and more. All have been fantastic
Be sure to pick out all of the shell pieces and bits of gristle. Too much debri-hunting is barely enough
When you have pure crab meat, add the capsicum, onion, mayonnaise, panko crumbs and corn starch.
Also add salt and pepper to season to taste
Mix lightly to combine, and try not to break up the crab meat
Mix all of the ingfedients through lightly, then 'bind' them all gently with the mayonnaise, corn starch and panko crumbs.
The mix should be light, fresh and should gently 'cling' together.
The LAST thing we want is a dense blob that hangs together sullenly, almost as if in defiance of gravity and quantum physics.
We're trying to get an ethereal puff of flavour from a food product which requires gentle handling.
Once the mix is lightly combined and just clinging together, gently shape spoonfuls into even size balls, and drop them into the seasoned flour.
Roll to coat, then lift and flatten gently, shaping lightly into a crab cake. Shake lightly to remove excess flour.
Pass through the egg, then drain well before dropping into the panko crumbs.
Press lightly to coat, then set aside. They're ready to pan fry!
Here (above) is the humble "gâteau crabe de M. Thach" ready to be cooked.
Beneath, pan fried in all its glory.
The crab cakes should be pan fried, never deep fried.
You can use plain oil, or butter, but I find the best is a lightly flavoured oil AND a little butter.
The oil raises the burning point of the butter, and the butter gives great taste and a light golden browning ability that is hard to do with oil alone.
My favourite is shallot oil (oil used for deep frying crispy fried shallots, then strained) and a knob of butter.
Saute until golden brown and just cooked through.
We topped ours with a dot of horseradish & mayonnaise, a crushed black pepper corn, some dill and a slice of chilli.
We're being all fruity and tropical here – so ours comes with a mango salsa.
Perhaps you have no desire to be a protein heretic – so you can serve it without fruit salsa of course.
Immediately springing to mind are horseradish relish, dill creme fraiche, finger lime yoghurt, cucumber dill yoghurt, saffron aioli, smoky eggplant dip, hommus or similar.
Thanks for dropping by chef-a-gogo.
Do you have a favourite crab recipe?
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