Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Crab Batter

on March 9, 2013

The subtitle of this post is “Or: The Inherent Hazards of Substitutions.”

Today was National Crabmeat Day. Woohoo! I think I already mentioned that this holiday enabled me to write in crab cakes for tonight’s menu, which is great except I have never ever before made a crab cake, and I had no idea how to do it. I knew that I liked crab cakes because there was this amazing restaurant in Billings called Bin 119 that served crab cakes with a coconut curry sauce that was to die for. When I did my grocery shopping early this week I bought a can of crab meat (located with the canned tuna and spam!) because I was planning ahead, but I didn’t really have a clear idea what I was going to do with it.

I started my research in The New Best Recipe, which is the definitive selection of a wide variety of recipes. I knew that book would steer me in the right direction, and sure enough, it has a recipe for crab cakes. Of course, one of the first sentences in the recipe’s write-up is, “Canned crabmeat is horrible.” Well, I was stuck with it and there’s nothing America’s Test Kitchen can do about it. Neener neener. Like the “pound cake” I made a few days ago, I had to make do with what I had in the kitchen, so I pretty much followed the recipe except:

Instead of jumbo lump crabmeat, I used a can.

I used dried minced onion flakes instead of the scallions.

I omitted the Old Bay seasoning.

I used finely crushed cracker crumbs instead of bread crumbs.

I more than halved everything because the recipe calls for 1 pound of crab, but I only had a 6 ounce can. But then I forgot to halve the egg, so I put the whole egg in the mix.


my crab batter


At this point the recipe says, “Divide the crab mixture into 4 portions and shape each into a fat, round cake.” Yeah, that isn’t gonna happen. So Jeremy suggested I glop spoonfuls into the frying pan and make pancakes. Luckily he has a lot of experience making things like potato pancakes so he knows about these things.

So that’s what I did. It actually turned out really well because I made Jeremy finish cooking them when it came time to do the flip. I knew they would probably end up half in/half out of the pan if I did it.

finished crab meal

To go with the crab cakes, I made a coconut curry sauce that I hoped would at least come close to the Bin 119 miracle on earth. Of course I couldn’t find any existing recipe so I had to adapt something. The closest thing I found was actually a marinade recipe in The New Best Recipe–a marinade intended for grilling shish kebab. So, instead of buttermilk I used coconut milk, and reduced all the amounts of the spices, and turned it into a spin off a bechamel sauce. It turned out really good, except it’s not quite perfect so I will be tweaking it in the coming weeks. I will admit, I’m impressed that a marinade turned bechamel variation ended up being so good, because it could have gone all kinds of nasty. I’ll post the recipe for my sauce on the Favorite Recipes page in case all y’all want to have a go.

I also went whole-hog with the coconut curry theme and made some curried rice I found on while searching for a sauce recipe. It was good, too, except I forgot to put in the onion. And the recipe does have an error as printed, so I fixed that. If you go look, the liquid/rice ratio is off; you need twice as much liquid for your rice (1 c. rice, 2 c. liquid, for example). But nevertheless, even Stephen liked the rice!

All in all, I would say it was a fitting celebration for National Crabmeat Day. I learned a lot and took some brave steps in the kitchen.

Tell me about the last cooking adventure you had! I can’t wait to hear!


2 responses to “Crab Batter

  1. JeneaSwainston says:

    I love playing with recipes in the kitchen! Sometimes I’m not sure what is going to be for supper until its on the table! I keep changing it up and improvising…

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