Mini Me Crab Cakes w/ Spicy Sauce

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Last week I picked up a fresh Dungeness Crab (and this recipe) from Whole Foods that was caught that morning from Bodega Bay, and was cleaned as well as cracked....all for $4.99.  Gotta love this time of year in the bay area!

These tasty little gems are great for parties.  They're two bites of sheer awesomeness...make ahead of time and reheat or make 'em fresh.  Please share you wine pairing suggestions below in comments.  Cheers!

INGREDIENTS 1 LB Dungeness Crab (or lump crab meat) 2/3 cup bread crumbs (wheat crumbs work well) 4 green onions, sliced thin 1 egg 1/4 TSP fresh ground pepper 1-1/2 TSP Old Bay seasoning 1 TBSP Dijon mustard 6 TBSP mayonnaise, divided 1/4 cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped 2 TBSP hot sauce 1-1/2 TSP grated lemon zest 1 TBSP canola oil

Place crab meat in a large bowl and use your fingers to gently feel for and remove any pieces of shell or crab cartilage. Add green onions, bread crumbs, Old Bay and pepper, toss to combine. While that's going on, get out a smaller bowl and whisk together dijon, egg and 2 TBSP of mayo, and pour over the crab mix. Toss until combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes

Meanwhile, take a sip of the wine you're thinking of pairing :) And also, make the sauce while you're at it. Nobody wants to be a total lush. In a blender, combine bell pepper, hot sauce, lemon zest and remaining mayo. blend until it's silky smooth. Cover and refrigerate until it's ready to use.

Form the crab mixture into 24 small 2-bite crab cakes...each about 1-1/2 inch in diameter. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the cakes until nicely browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel and serve warm with sauce.

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Dungeness Crab Cake Salad with Watercress, Fennel and Orange

watercress INGREDIENTS for CRAB CAKES 1 egg, beaten 1 LB fresh Dungeness crab 3/4 cup bread crumbs 1/3 cup grated pecorino cheese 1/4 cup mayonaisse 3 shallots, finely chopped 2 TBSP dijon mustard juice from one lemon 1/4 cup green bell peppers, minced 1/4 cup red bell peppers, minced 1 TBSP green onions 2 TBSP parsley, finely chopped 1 TBSP butter 1/4 TSP cayenne pepper

INGREDIENTS for SALAD 4 cups watercress, rinsed 4 oranges, peeled and separated juice from one lemon 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil 1 fennel bulb, cleaned and sliced thinly Salt and Pepper to taste . . To prepare the crab cakes, heat butter in a sauté pan over medium low heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together shallots, grated cheese, lemon juice, mayo, egg, mustard, bread crumbs, bell pepper, salt and cayenne.  After mixing, add in crab meat, then divide into 8-10 balls.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To prepare salad, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  In a separate bowl, toss watercress, orange segments, fennel and onion together.

Remove crab balls from refrigerator and flatten into one inch thick cakes.  Heat 2-3 TBSP oil or butter in a skillet and cook for 4 minutes on each side over medium heat.  Distribute salad mix on chilled plates, top with dressing and crab cakes then serve.

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Wine pairings for this dish are pretty easy.  It's a flexible dish suitable for many Chardonnay's or rich whites.  The crab cakes are pretty hearty, so make sure to serve with a white wine that can hang.  I've tried oaked Chardonnay's and unoaked Chardonnays.  The both worked.  Pinot Grigio, Semillion, Viognier and other whites also work.  If I had to pick one wine as the most ideal pairing, it would be the Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay from Livermore.

I'm more of an unoaked Chardonnay kinda guy, but once in a while, you just want that buttery butter ball that even Mrs. Butterworth thinks is buttery.  The Riva Ranch Chardonnay isn't obnoxious — still refined and a great expression of the vineyard.  Many people don't realize the Wente's were one of the first wine family's in California going back to the 1850's.  They've quietly gone about producing consistent well-priced estate wines.

The Riva Ranch has a creamy "dusty" texture with mineral highlights that can best be described as a combination of wet rocks and smoke.

detail_bottle_riva_ranch

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