Monday, 19 July 2010

Cornish fusion crab cakes with tropical dressing, cucumber and spring onion

Ahh, the humble fish cake, a favourite of mine and another impressive yet modest little dish that's very easy to do.

Nice for light lunches or evening meals. If you can't get hold of fresh crab then substitute for chopped crayfish and salmon.

It mentions in my Cornish eatings post that we ate some particularly impressive squid with an interesting dressing of what tasted like passion fruit juice, nam pla and palm sugar.

It got me thinking about a nice little accompaniment to some fresh crab cakes - as much as I love chillies I'm not really into sweet chilli sauce, the ubiquitous sugary syrup that always turns up next to them has become a bit boring for me.

It took a couple of attempts to get the recipe just right, and whilst I'm not overly into sweet things (notice the lack of puds on the blog?) I'm trying to get more into them, and this little dipping sauce / dressing manages to really excite my taste buds - perhaps on account of the intensity of the fish sauce, the sourness of the citrus and the red chilli kick. 

Usually I like to wrap fish cakes in panko (love those sharp little breadcrumbs on many things actually!) but it is nice to go without once in a while. The delicate crab might get a bit overpowered by the texture, and in this dish its the crab flavour that we're after.  Now, not giving them a coating makes them a little more difficult to cook - but so long as you well oil the frying pan and move them carefully to avoid breaking them up they'll be fine.

Fishcakes for two as a main, or four as a starter:
225g white crab meat
2 medium baking potatoes, pierced
4 spring onions, 2 finely chopped up, two left whole
Half a cucumber
200g broad beans, blanched in boiling water, then cooled and shelled
Two red chillis, one de-seeded and finely sliced, the other chopped up
Two heaped tablespoons sesame seeds toasted in a dry frying pan
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
A small handful fresh corriander, chopped up  
One egg yolk (free range of course)
Plain flour for dusting
3 passion fruits
Juice of one lime
Nam pla (Thai fish sauce) - the same quantity of liquid as in the one lime
One teaspoon palm sugar
50g rocket
50g shiso (or watercress)
50g butter
A few tablespoons oil for frying

- Make the dressing first. In a bowl mix together the chopped up chilli, contents from the three passion fruits, fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice and let the flavours mingle together for about 30 minutes. After that time, press the liquid through the sieve into a cup or bowl. Taste it to see if it needs a bit more palm sugar or lime juice
- Bake the baking potatoes for an hour and a half on 190 degrees, then remove from the oven, cut in half and leave to cool. Once cooled, spoon out the potato from its skin into a bowl (discard skin)
- Mash the potato up with a fork and add salt and pepper, chopped up spring onion, egg yolk, sesame seeds, Tabasco sauce, fresh corriander and crab, mix together with the fork carefully, until all the ingredients are combined
- Using your hands split the mixture into four portions, and then form them into four balls, or eight small balls if you're making them as a starter. Make sure you compact the mixture together tightly so they dont collapse when cooking. Once formed into balls, gently press between your palms to flatten them out, around a 2cm thickness is ideal
- Lightly dust the crab cakes with the plain flour
- Heat the butter and oil together in a frying pan on a medium heat and wait for the butter to start foaming
- Add the crab cakes to the pan, turn the heat down and cook for around 8 minutes before turning them over and cooking for a further 8 minutes, you're looking for a deep golden colour. Don't cook them too fast as they'll be cool in the middle, you're looking to heat them through more than cook the fish as the crab is already cooked
- While they're cooking, quarter your cucumber lenghthways and remove the watery core, I do this by making two cuts along the length, cutting through the point where the core joins the outer flesh, and cutting through to the centre. Once done, finely slice the cucumber length ways into shards
- Cut the two whole spring onions into lengths the same as the cucumber, and shred length ways
- Put the cucumber, spring onion and finely sliced red chilli into a bowl and add half the passion fruit dressing, mix through with your fingers
- In a separate bowl add the salad leaves and broad beans, and add the rest of the passion fruit dressing, mix again with your hands
- Pile the leaves and broad beans on a plate, top with the cooked fish cakes and finish by adding the spring onion, chilli and cucumber mix to the top

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