Dungeness Crab Cakes

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Crab cakes may be a Maryland tradition but I can’t think of a better way to enjoy them than with San Francisco Dungeness crabmeat. I’ve been making this recipe for more than ten years now – they make a perfect appetizer and are just as good in a sandwich.

I usually serve these without any sort of sauce, since the crab cakes themselves are flavored with Parmesan cheese, garlic and herbs. I know cheese usually doesn’t pair well with seafood, but there’s an exception to every rule, right?

Crab cakes

Ingredients:

3/4 pound cooked crabmeat (shelled from one Dungeness crab)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 egg, beaten
1/4 half and half or heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Break crabmeat into flakes. Place in a bowl, add cheese, parsley, oregano, garlic, crumbs, onions, egg, and cream. Mix lightly.

2. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Mound two tablespoons of the crab mixture with a spoon, spreading to make a 3-inch cake. Place in pan and repeat until pan is filled. cook patties until lightly browned on bottoms, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook until other side is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and arrange on serving plate. Repeat until all crab cakes are cooked, adding more oil as needed. Serve warm.

Singaporean Chili Crab

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I haven’t been to Singapore (yet), but it’s one of the countries (well, city-states) that I really want to visit. With one of the most diverse cuisines in the world, it’s a street food heaven offering Malay, Indonesian, Indian, and Chinese flavors and there really is something for every palette. If that doesn’t sound enticing, well, then I might be judging you.

One of my favorite Singaporean dishes is chili crab and it’s also one the most popular dishes in Singapore’s ubiquitous hawker stalls. The best time to make this in the Bay Area is when local Dungeness crab is in season; buy two or three because these will go fast. Chili crab is messy, spicy and saucy, but well worth the trouble.

Singaporean chili crab

Ingredients:

3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 Dungeness crabs, cooked and cleaned
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 red jalapeno chili, seeded and minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 green onion, thinly sliced

1. Mix chicken broth, ketchup, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar in a bowl and set aside.

2. Twist off the claws and legs from the crabs and crack them with a cleaver or mallet. Cut the body into 4 pieces.

3. Place a wok over high heat until hot. Add oil, swirling to coat sides. Add garlic, ginger, and chili; cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add crab and stir-fry for 2 minutes.

4. Add the sauce and reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring once, until crab is heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in egg and cook until it begins to set, about 1 minute.

5. Arrange crab pieces on a serving plate. Pour sauce all over and garnish with green onion.

Miso Soup with Clams

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Even though it’s almost summer, it’s still cold and rainy in the Bay Area. Warmer weather seems to be on hold and I’ve been craving steaming, brothy soups. Asian soups are my favorite (surprise, surprise) and miso soup with clams has been the perfect antidote to this week’s stormy weather.

This recipe is adapted from Recipes of Japanese Cooking, a book I bought at the Kinokuniya in Shinjuku. I have no idea if you can get this book in the states, but this soup couldn’t be easier to make at home.

Miso Soup with Clams

Ingredients:

3/4 pounds clams
2 cups dashi broth
1/2 tablespoon sake
2 tablespoons miso paste
1 green onion, thinly sliced

1. Rinse the clams thoroughly with cold water, removing sand and dirt from their shells. Drain.

2. Add the broth and sake to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. When it ocmes to a boil, add the clams, reduce the heat to medium and cover the pot. Cook until the clams are cooked and the shells open, about 5 to 7 minutes.

3. Add the miso gradually into the soup while softening with some hot broth and dissolving on a ladle. Remove from heat just before it comes to a boil. Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with the sliced onions.

Seasonal Pickles

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I love pickles. Iranian torshi, Italian giardiniera, Japanese tsukemono – the possibilities are endless. These days, I’m increasingly seeing seasonal pickles show up on restaurant menus, which is a welcome change from the plain pickled cucumber of yesteryear.

This recipe is a simple take on seasonal pickled vegetables, and is ready in just one day. Feel free to substitute the vegetables with whatever is readily available in the markets. These are, after all, seasonal.

Seasonal Pickles

Ingredients:

4 cups distilled white vinegar
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
12 fresh thyme sprigs
6 Turkish bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
1 rosemary sprig
3 carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into two-inch pieces
12 radishes, trimmed and halved
15 purple pearl onions, peeled
1/4 pound green beans
1 head cauliflower, thickly sliced

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Add thyme, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, and rosemary; stir to blend.

2. Add all vegetables to a large, sterilized canning jar. Add vinegar mixture until vegetables are submerged. Cover with plastic wrap and lid and chill at least one day and up to one week.

Moules Marinière

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Moules marinière is a classic mussel dish found on just about every French menu ever. It also happens to be ridiculously easy to make. All you need are a few ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, some fresh mussels, a few minutes to spare and voila, you’re good to go.

Make sure to pick up a loaf of crusty French bread before you make this dish too; it’s a perfect vehicle for soaking up the shallot and parsley-flavored broth. There are countless recipes for moules marinière but my favorite is the one I slightly adapted from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. The butter to shallot to wine ratio is just right.

Moules Mariniere

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
salt and pepper
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed
4 sprigs parsley, finely chopped

1. Heat the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the shallots. Cook for 2 minutes, until the shallots are soft and just beginning to brown. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the mussels to the same pot and cover with the lid. Cook just until all the mussels are open, about 8 minutes. Shake the pot, keeping the lid pressed on top, then add the parsley and shake again. Pour into a warmed serving bowl and serve with bread.