"Have you ever watched a crab on the shore crawling backward in search of the Atlantic Ocean, and missing? That's the way the mind of man operates." H.L MenckenI'm crazy for crab cakes. I've had more than my share in the crab capitals from New York down the east coast to Maryland.
For a long time, crab cakes in Prague were just a dream. Fresh crab meat was non-existent or prohibitively expensive. I rarely saw them on restaurant menus. The few I tried were disappointing. In recent months, they've been available at U Emy Destinnové. I had a sample at the Prague Food Festival and they were quite nice, made with crab meat imported from the U.S.A.
A few years ago, I discovered Marks & Spencer in Prague sold cans of crab meat chunks. They are 120 CZK each for 170 grams.
This recipe takes less than 45 minutes start to finish and makes four crab cakes. Two per person should be enough, but you can just double everything to make enough for four.
2 cans of Marks & Spencer White Crab Meat chunks in brine.
1 bunch of coriander/cilantro (can substitute green onion)
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of mayo
Salted butter (I use President brand)
Panko or regular bread crumbs.
I get coriander from the Asian market passage by the Újezd tram stop, the salted butter at Tesco, and panko bread crumbs from Thai's Asian Food Shop.
To start, I empty cans of crab into in a colander, rinse the chunks, and let the water drain.
Finely chop the coriander (cilantro) leaves on a cutting board.
Beat one medium egg in a dish.
Mix the crab, egg, and coriander in a bowl along with the one spoon of mustard and mayo.
I then form the mixture into four cakes that fit into my cupped hand.
Put a pan on medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil. Just before putting the cakes in, melt a chunk of the salted butter in the oil. All the cakes should be able to sit in a thin layer of oil and butter.
After a minute or so in the pan, I use a spatula to regularly peek under the crab cakes. They can burn easily. When they turn golden brown, flip them over. When the other side are also browned, they are done.
There are different two condiments I serve this with (though not at the same time). One is wasabi mayo.
I squirt wasabi from a tube (available at Thai's Asian Food shop) into a few big spoons of Hellmann's mayo, along with a few drops of lime juice.
Plate it and serve with the wasabi mayo and lemon wedges.
So I will also give you the recipe for a more complicated complement: mango chili salsa.
For that, you'll need:
1 large or 2 small ripe mangos. The best ones are from the Ujezd passage market mentioned earlier or Makro (if you have a card to get in).
1 bunch of coriander
1 red chili
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 teaspoon of powdered sugar if the mango is not ripe and sweet enough
Cut the fruit away from the pit.
Cut the mango into small pieces.
Slice open one red chili. Remove the seeds and throw them away. Finely slice and dice the chili.
Mix the mango, coriander, and some chili into a bowl. Squeeze in the juice from the lime, and add the tablespoon of fish sauce. You can add more fish sauce of you want a saltier flavor balance. If the mango is not ripe and sweet enough, add powdered sugar to your taste. Stir it all up.
You can serve this mango chili salsa in a bowl in the center of the plate, or just spoon it onto the plate along side the crab cakes.
That's how I make Brewsta's crab cakes. It's basically a mixture of recipes and improvisations. If you have suggestions on how to make them better, I'd love to hear it.