Maybe I’m experiencing a sort of mid-life crisis, but whenever I’m in the kitchen cooking something I love, I experience a warping of the space-time continuum. For instance, recently when I made Dover sole in a coconut curry custard wrapped in banana leaves and steamed, I was transported back to my childhood in Thailand when I was served the same dish and fell in love with it for the first time.
I think cooking can do that for you. Transport you back to that first moment you fell in love with the dish you happen to be cooking.
Whenever I make steamed blue crabs, I think of our days in Baltimore when we would go out with friends to crab houses and consume dozens of crabs steamed in Old Bay seasoning, cracking their tough shells open with mallets, our fingers burning from the spices, and drinking glasses of cold beer to wash down the salty spicy flavor.
Whenever I steam Dungeness crabs, I think of the first time I had Dungeness in San Francisco on Fisherman’s Wharf, in view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
I was recently thumbing through a cookbook from Ray’s Boathouse, a famous Seattle restaurant, and stopped when I came across their recipe for Dungeness Crab Cakes. I’ve eaten at Ray’s Boathouse only once. It was about ten years ago during a business trip to Seattle, and I remember the beautiful views of Puget Sound from my Westin Hotel room downtown. I remember going to Pike Place Market and losing track of time roaming the fascinating shops. I remember the lively urban street life and the delicious dinner Charles and I had at Ray’s Boathouse with one of my good friends. It made me wonder about that friend, wonder how she was doing now, years after she moved from Seattle to Milwaukee.
Happy in that memory, I decided to make Ray’s Boathouse crab cakes for my family for dinner.
Northwest Dungeness Crab Cakes
- 5 ounces (150 gr.) of Dungeness crab meat
- 1 cup (240 ml.) Panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup (60 ml.) finely chopped red bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) chopped Italian parsley
- Pinch of celery salt
- Dash of Tabasco
- Pinch of ground black pepper
- Pinch of Kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup (60 ml.) heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) chopped shallots
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml.) paprika
- 2 cups (480 ml.) canola oil
- In a bowl, combine Panko bread crumbs, chopped red bell peppers, parsley, celery salt, Tabasco, ground black pepper, salt, egg, heavy cream, dry sherry, shallots and paprika. Mix well.
- Add crab meat and combine thoroughly. Form into patties with your hand and refrigerate for an hour.
- Heat the oil in a medium-sized skillet and fry the crab cakes until golden.
- Serve with lemon wedges and cocktail or tartar sauce.
Adapted from Ray’s Boathouse Cook Book.