Crab cakes with Basil-Jalapeno Aioli

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Dungeness crab seasons ends this week, but there’s still time to get in one more crab recipe before it’s over. This crab cake recipe features corn, basil, and jalapenos, making it a perfect bridge between cold weather and warm weather cooking. Serve these as an elegant appetizer or as a light dinner alongside salad.

(Looking for a more classic crab cake recipe? I got you.)

Crab cakes with basil-jalapeno aioli

Ingredients:

For the crab cakes:

3 teaspoons unsalted butter
4 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound Dungeness crab meat
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1 egg
3 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
Pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal

For the aioli:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
2 teaspoons capers, drained and chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt
Pepper

1. In a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the green onions and garlic. Cook and stir for 3 minutes or until softened. Place the mixture in a large bowl. Add the crabmeat, corn, bread crumbs, egg, mayonnaise, mustard, parsley, and pepper to taste; mix well. Divide the mixture into 12 portions and form into 1/2-inch-thick patties. Place the patties on a plate and chill for 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together all of the aioli ingredients and set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons butter and the oil over medium-high heat. Dredge each crab cake in the cornmeal, turning to coat evenly. Sear the cakes for 5 to 6 minutes per side or until golden brown. Serve crab cakes hot with Basil-Jalapeno Tartar Sauce.

Curry Puffs

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I was sort of obsessed with eating all the things when I visited Singapore a few years ago. I mean, it’s the best food city on earth (don’t @ me). When it was time to leave, I realized I hadn’t yet tried one of the most Singaporean of snacks, curry puffs! Think curried chicken and potatoes in a deep-fried pastry shell. Yeah. I hurriedly bought one at Changi Airport right as we were boarding and savored the carby, meaty, buttery goodness right before saying goodbye.

I can’t find curry puffs in the Bay Area, but I can make them with relative ease at home. I take a shortcut with puff pastry and I oven bake them so they’re a bit healthier, but they’re just as delicious.

Curry puffs

Ingredients:

1 small potato, boiled, peeled, and cut into cubes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1/2 onion, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder (I used a blend of Madras curry powder and homemade Jaffna curry powder)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

1. Place a wok over high heat until hot. Add oil, then add ginger, onion, and green onions, and stir-fry for 5 minutes, until onion begins to brown. Add chicken and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Stir in potato, curry powder, and soy sauce. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and lightly mash with a potato ricer.

2. Preheat oven to 375F degrees. In the meantime, on a floured board, roll out puff pastry to a thickness of about 1/4 inch; cut into 4-inch circles. Place 1 tablespoon filling on each circle. Brush edges with egg wash, fold dough to make half-moons, and press edges to seal.

3. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush tops with remaining egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.

Steamed Tofu with Black Bean Sauce

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This dish is elegant, this dish is healthy, and best of all, this dish is extremely simple to make. Just make sure to use soft tofu in this recipe, because it’s all about the silky texture here.

Steamed tofu with black bean sauce

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon black bean sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 16-ounce package soft tofu, drained
1 green onion, thinly sliced

1. To make the sauce, combine the black bean sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar in a small bowl.

2. Cut the tofu widthwise into 8 slices. Carefully transfer the tofu into a heatproof ceramic dish that will fit into your steamer.

3. Prepare a wok for steaming. Steam the tofu, covered, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Pour the sauce over the top and steam for 4 more minutes. Garnish with the green onion and serve warm.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

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Crispy, salty, and savory, these Vietnamese-style spring rolls are fried to perfection and make a delicious appetizer. I’ve adapted these from the traditional version: I use ground turkey instead of pork, and I shallow-fry instead of deep-fry. And you know what? Even though they’re labor-intensive, I prefer them to the restaurant version.

Make sure to make enough nuoc cham dipping sauce to go with these spring rolls: the bright, tart sauce cuts through the spring rolls perfectly.

Vietnamese spring rolls

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1 ounce bean thread noodles, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes, drained, and cut into 1-inch lengths with scissors (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fish sauce
40 round rice papers
Vegetable oil for frying
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons rice or apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Thai bird chile, minced

1. Combine 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/4 cup fish sauce, lime juice, water, vinegar, sugar, and chile in a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.

2. Place the turkey in a mixing bowl and add the shallots, remaining garlic, carrot, bean thread noodles, black pepper, and remaining fish sauce and mix well. Set aside.

3. Set out two large plates. Fill a wide bowl or basin with 2 inches of warm water. Wet 1 paper until softened, then place on one of the plates. Place 2 tablespoons filling in a line about 5 inches long across the wrapper, leaving a 3/4-inch border at either end of the line. Fold the edge nearest you over the filling, fold over the sides of the rice paper, and roll up tightly. Place on the other plate, cover with a damp cloth, and repeat with the remaining papers and filling.

4. When ready to fry, set out another large plate lined with paper towels. Place a stable wok or heavy skillet over medium high heat and add oil to a depth of about 1 inch and heat until hot. Add the rolls one at a time to the pan, being careful not to splash yourself with oil, without crowding, and make sure the rolls aren’t touching. After you add the rolls to the oil, they’ll bubble and the rice paper will change texture. Use a spatula or heat-proof tongs to gently turn the rolls so they cook evenly. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden all over, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining rolls.

5. Cut each cooked spring roll in half on the diagonal and arrange on a platter alongside the nuoc cham dipping sauce and serve warm or at room temperature.

Queso with Turkey Chorizo

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I’m just going to break it to you now: this appetizer is definitely not healthy. Like, not even remotely. As in, I-bought-Velveeta-for-the-first-time-in-my-life-for-this-recipe levels of unhealthy.

But it’s worth it. I mean, there’s nothing quite like semi-food Velveeta to keep your queso at a smooth, dip-able consistency even after it’s cooled. A liberal sprinkling of turkey chorizo (don’t @ me, it’s actually really good) rounds things out with another layer of crumbly texture and warm spice.

After the chips are gone, you’ll be licking the bowl with this one.

Queso with Turkey Chorizo

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 ounces fresh turkey or chicken chorizo
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/2 pound Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/2 pound sharp cheddar, grated
2 teaspoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and cook, stirring and breaking up with a spoon, until browned and crisp, 8–10 minutes; set aside.

2. Heat half-and-half and Velveeta in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until Velveeta is melted, 6–8 minutes. Add Monterey Jack and cheddar; cook, stirring, until mixture is smooth. Mix in chipotle chiles, salt, and chile powders.

3. Transfer queso to a warm bowl and top with chorizo.