Last November was the official start of the Dungeness crab season, and according to SF Gate, the season was going to be bountiful. And judging from my recent visit to HMB fish market, where crabs were selling for $8 a pound, they predicted correctly. Not only were the tanks teeming with fresh crab, but the crabs were large and heavy with meat. I only needed two crabs to make 14 crab cakes, while saving the two outer shells and its “caviar” for another day.
The beauty of buying a whole crab is that you get a little bit of something for everyone. White meat is loved by everyone in my family, but what I crave, absolutely adore, are the messy bits attached to the main body of the crab and its top shell. Some call them innards, or caviar, and they range in color from light gray to olive green. Sometimes the innards taste bitter, but often, they have a wonderful, creamy livery flavor to them, not unlike sea urchin. I wasn’t able to completely fight the urge to immediately down the innards as I de-shelled the crab, but was able to save one top shell for tofu stew.
The crabs were boiled at the fish market, and the task of de-shelling them wasn’t too difficult. Once I separated the top shell from the main body (and safely stored the one remaining shell in the fridge), I plucked out the meat from the crevices of the body. Using the end of a knife handle, I gently smashed the legs (to avoid flying shards and embedding some shell into the flesh). Then, using my favorite tool–chopsticks or in this case, chopstick–dug out the meat from all the little pockets.
Eating whole crab at the table isn’t the most elegant dining experience. It’s a good deal like having barbecue ribs, and napkins are completely useless. Why else would they have you wearing a silly bib at crab shacks? So taking the time to de-shell the crab for your guests or family is always welcomed. Then, serving them as crab cakes makes them perfect for parties. (The holidays aren’t over just yet, as the Lunar New Year isn’t until February.)
- 2 dungeness crabs(boiled by fish monger or done at home) or 4 c of crab meat (remove any cartilage or shells from meat)
- 4 large red potatoes peeled
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tbs chopped chives
- 4 tbs mayonnaise
- 3 tsp light miso paste
- 2 eggs
- vegetable oil to pan-fry
- 1 c panko bread crumbs
- Place peeled and quartered red potatoes and 1 clove of garlic in a saucepan, add water to cover, and boil until fork tender(about 8-10 minutes). Drain well, and mash together in a bowl.
- In another bowl, mix together mayonnaise, miso, chives, and eggs until well blended. Once potatoes have cooled, add to the mixture.
- Gently fold in crab meat.
- Form patties that are about 4 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick.
- Coat each patty in panko bread crumbs. (You can refrigerate at this point and pan-fry later. Make ahead for up to 2 hours.)
- Cook the patties in a skillet with a generous amount of oil on medium heat. Serve hot and with kochujang cream.
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
3 tbs mayonnaise
1 tbs kochujang(Korean spicy chili paste)
Whip cream until stiff peaks. Add mayonnaise and whip for 10 seconds. Fold in kochujang until fully blended.