*Here is another recipe from my newspaper column.
I first became familiar with the Blue Crab whilst working in the USA, where it’s used to make soups, crab cakes,salads and lots of other dishes.
My first taste was in Ocean City, Maryland with a bunch of friends, we sat down to a pile of steam crabs and jugs of cold beer. And I do mean pile, the waiter covered the trestle table with newspaper and then brought out several huge plates of crabs steamed in spices and beer. Each of us was given a wooden mallet to smash open the crabs and pick out the delicious meat. Sitting on the quayside with this simple crab feast watching the sun go down is still a vivid memory.
The Blue crab is indigenous to the eastern seaboard from as far North as Nova Scotia to Argentina in the south. It has been introduced (via ballast water) to Japanese and European waters and has been observed from the Baltic Sea,North Sea, Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. Although the blue crab seems to have a long list of predators including eels, drum, spot , trout, sharks, cow nose sting rays and even alligators this species of crab has not only survived but seems to be thriving and spreading to other parts of the world.
Unlike the UK’s native brown crab which has quite a strong taste, blue crab meat has a milder, sweeter taste and is now occasionally seen in UK fishmongers and supermarkets. Most of the blue crab meat seen in the UK comes from Thailand and is pasteurised.
Crabcakes (4 portions as main course or 8 appetisers)
454g (1lb) pasteurized (blue crab) meat
3 tbsp good mayonnaise
3 thick slices of white bread
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
1tsp of Cajun spice or (Old Bay*)
50g (2oz ) Plain flour
100g (4oz) natural breadcrumbs
- Trim crusts from bread and dice into small cubes.
- Whisk one egg together with the mayonnaise until it is well blended.
- Add the Cajun (or Old Bay) spice mix, Worcestershire sauce and French mustard.
- Stir in the bread cubes and picked crabmeat* and divide the mix into 8 equal sized small balls.
- Dust the balls in the plain flour and season with salt and pepper, shaking off the excess, then into beaten egg (the remaining egg) and finally into the breadcrumbs.
- Reshape into a cake shape and lay them onto a tray lined with parchment paper and refrigerate.
Green Thai Curry Sauce
2 tins of coconut milk
1 Tbsp green Thai curry paste
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 dessertspoon of finely chopped ginger
1 small lemongrass stalk, bashed flat
2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander ( Cilantro)
8 large basil leaves
2 dessertspoons Vegetable oil
few drops of fish sauce
2 lime leaves (optional)
1 yellow pepper cut into thin strips
1 large carrot cut into thin strips
16 peeled and deveined tiger prawns
- Preheat oven to 180 C gas mark 4
- Fry garlic and ginger with one dessertspoon of vegetable oil on a high heat in a non-stick saucepan, stirring often for two to three minutes.
- Turn the heat to low add the rest of the ingredients except the coriander and basil.
- Simmer the sauce on a low heat for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat.
- Remove the lime leaves and the piece of lemongrass and add the basil and coriander and keep warm.
- Fry the crab cakes in two batches until they are lightly brown on both sides then transfer to a non-stick baking tray and cook in the oven for a further 5-6 minutes until they are golden brown.
- Whilst the crab cakes are cooking in the oven stir fry the vegetables and shrimp to create a bed for the crab cakes to sit on to keep them crisp.
To Serve (If serving as a main course serve two per portion if as a starter one.) Spoon a little of the stir-fried vegetables into the centre of your warm plates, top with a crab cake and pour some of the sauce around the plate.
Chef Tips If you can not find tins of pasteurised (blue crab) meat then, of course, you can substitute. if you use Brown crabs (UK crabs) then I suggest you mix a little flaked cooked white fish into the mix to bulk it out and make it less expensive. Old Bay seasoning is a unique and wonderful blend of spices sold in and around the Chesapeake Bay area in the USA, but these days you can even find it in Tesco’s.