Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dungie Cakes with a Yellow Pepper Saffron Sauce

Having lived near the Chesapeake Bay for many years, I have a particular fondness for crabcakes.  Every chef in this region has his or her own recipe that, as a general rule, is a closely guarded secret.  I have previously posted a Crabcake Sandwich - Italian Style;. however, that is not my personal recipe for crabcakes.  I have yet to post that recipe and, for now, I do not intend to post it.

Still, I experiment with crabcakes, using different ingredients and, in this case, a different species of crab. Typically, crab cakes are made with blue crabs; however, I recently made crabcakes using dungeness crab meat.  Unlike blue crabs, which are an endangered species (especially in the Chesapeake Bay), dungeness crabs are considered a sustainable choice.  The dungeness crab fishery is well managed, limited to fishing male crabs of six and one quarter inches or larger.  Certain traps are used that allow for undersized crabs to escape and that minimize the bycatch.  Fishing is altogether prohibited during the molting season, thereby ensuring the continued propagation of the crabs.  For these reasons, dungeness crab is considered a "best choice" by Seafood Watch and has been certified as "sustainable" by the Marine Stewardship Council.

This recipe is one that is under development.  I wanted to push these crabcakes beyond a typical crabcake.  There is no Old Bay.  There is no mustard, Worcestershire sauce, or mustard.  The binding used consists simply of a cage free egg and unsalted butter, along with panko bread crumbs and finely diced peppers.  This recipe creates about six medium sized cakes, which can be served as two servings of three cakes or three servings of two cakes.

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 2-3

Ingredients (for the crab cakes):
2 pounds of dungeness crab clusters, picked
1/3 red bell pepper, diced finely
1/3 orange bell pepper, diced finely
1/3 yellow bell pepper, diced finely
1/2 sweet onion diced finely
2 cloves of garlic, diced finely
4 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup of panko bread crumbs

Ingredients (for the Yellow Pepper Saffron Sauce)
2/3 yellow pepper
1/2 sweet onion
1 small clove of garlic, diced
1 healthy pinch of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme 
1 pinch of saffron
1/4 cup of olive oil
Sea salt to taste

1.  Make the crab cakes.  Add the red, yellow and orange peppers to a bowl.  Add the onion and garlic.  Add the bread crumbs and mix well.  Add the crab meat and mix again.  Add the egg and the butter and mix thoroughly.  Make six balls of the crab mixture, working the mixture to ensure that they are compacted well.  Cover and refrigerate for about twenty minutes. 

2.  Make the sauce.   Saute 2/3 of the yellow bell pepper with the 1/2 onion and small clove of garlic.  Add the crushed red pepper and the thyme.  When the vegetables are translucent, which should be about five minutes, then remove from the heat and add to the food processor. Use the "food processor" function and add about 1/4 cup of olive oil by a slow steady stream.  Warm the saffron in hot water and then add to the food processor.  Once fully blended, add to a sauce pot and keep warm.

3.  Saute the crab cakes.  Heat about two to three tablespoons of olive oil in two pans over medium high heat.   Remove the crab cakes from the refrigerator.  Using your hands, press each ball into a cake.  Add the cakes to the oil and saute for about four to five minutes on each side.  

4.  Plate the dish.  Remove and plate two to three cakes on each plate.  Spoon the sauce over the cakes and serve immediately.  


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