Monday, July 8, 2019

Rosie Makes A Thai Style Crab Soup. And More Crab Cakes.

I love a challenge.
And every now and then, I am presented with one.
Some time ago, (I think this was back in May.) Mr. Hawthorne and I went out for lunch at our favorite restaurant, The Saltbox Café, and there was a new soup on the menu.  We split a bowl of their Thai-Style Crab Soup.  Yep.  Imonna have to try my hand at this.  And I do believe I've come up with a reasonable facsimile.  Thanks, Chefs Amanda and Randolph, for the inspiration.

But before I give you my recipe, let's talk about the crab meat first.  Unless you're picking your own crabs, which for me is too damn much work, go buy the crab meat.  We get ours at Billy's Seafood.  And for this recipe, I'm using claw meat. ($14.95/lb.) Think of the claw meat as the "dark" meat of poultry.  It's cheaper and it's got more flavor going for it.  Crab meat comes by the pound and I never use the whole pound in one recipe.  I like to shake things up a bit.  So I'm using half a pound for the soup (which is aplenty) and I'll just have to figure something else to do with the other half a pound.  Oh, woe is me.  Except, NOT.  In other words, YAY!  More CRAB!  As in crab cakes!

 Note:  This is NOT the Saltbox's recipe.  I have no idea how they prepared this soup.  This is just my interpretation and attempt to recreate something I enjoyed immensely at the restaurant and to put my spin on it. 

Rosie's Crab Soup 
 (Inspired by The Saltbox Café)
2 TB unsalted butter
1/2 cup onion
1/3 cup orange sweet bell pepper
1/4 cup celery
2 cloves garlic
2-inch knob fresh ginger
1 TB butter
scant 1/4 cup flour
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup shrimp stock
1 14-oz. can coconut milk (OK.  It's actually 13.66 oz.)
1/4 cup red curry paste
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 pound crab meat (I used claw meat - $14.95/pound at Billy's Seafood.)

zest and juice of one lime
fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh basil, chiffonade cut
fresh, green raw coriander seeds  (The seeds of the cilantro plant, which I have in abundance in my garden.)

Prepare vegetables:
Finely chop the onion, orange pepper, and celery.
Run the garlic cloves through a garlic press. 
Cut the peeled knob of ginger into smaller pieces and run each piece through the garlic press, saving the juice and most of the pulp.  I use the wet ginger pulp that comes out of the first two pressings.  The drier ginger pulp I discard.

Rosie Notes:  I used my homemade vegetable stock and shrimp stock.  I make big batches, store in pint containers, and freeze.
Here's how to make shrimp stock.
And here's how to make vegetable stock.
Or you can just go buy a carton at Food Lion.

In a medium soup pot over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter.  When sizzling, add in the onion, orange pepper, and celery and sauté for about 2 minutes.  Add in the garlic, ginger, and ginger juice and cook another minute.

Add the remaining tablespoon of butter, let it melt, then add the flour, stirring another minute to cook the flour and remove the raw taste.  Slowly stir in the vegetable stock, the shrimp stock, then the can of coconut milk.  Continue stirring and let the mixture thicken.  Bring to a slight simmer and add in the crab meat.  Turn heat to low and let crab heat through.

Ladle into bowls.
Spoon a little lime juice and zest in each bowl and top with chopped cilantro and basil chiffonade.  A chiffonade is simply a cutting technique for leafy herbs where you stack the leaves, roll them up tightly, then thinly slice through them, perpendicular to the roll.  Separate the strips or ribbons and scatter on top of the soup.  I think the cilantro complements quite nicely, but you can substitute parsley if you're one of "those" people.  As for the raw coriander, you can't buy it anywhere.  Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant.  You have to grow it yourself, and like I said, I have an abundance of it now since my cilantro is flowering and going to seed.  It has an intense cilantro flavor with the added kick of citrus.

For the step-by-steps:
I have chopped onion, orange pepper, and celery prepared.
Along with a lime, some fresh cilantro with seeds and flowers, garlic and ginger, a can of coconut milk, some red curry paste, and homemade shrimp and vegetable stocks.

I ran the garlic and ginger through a garlic press.  You want that ginger juice that comes out.

Sauté a little butter until sizzly, then drop in the onions and...
...the carrots and celery.

Stir for a minute or two over medium heat.

Add in the garlic and ginger.  Stir.

Add in another pat of butter.  (I always use unsalted.  I like to be in control of the salt factor.)
Stir until melted, then...

...add in the flour.
Stir a minute, cooking the flour to get the raw taste out.

Slowly, stir in the stocks, letting the mixture thicken.

Like this.

Stir in the coconut milk.  Medium to medium low heat.

Add in the curry paste.
Stir until smooth.
Taste test and adjust seasonings - kosher salt and freshly ground pepper- if necessary.

When everything is juuuuuuussssst riiiiiiight, add in the crab meat.
Gently stir the crab in, being careful not to break up the meat.
Heat through and serve.

Ladle into bowls, squeeze a little lime juice in, maybe a bit if zest if you're so inclined, and sprinkle with some cilantro and basil.
Little toasts alongside are nice too.

Rosie's a happy camper.
Crab meat that you can taste in every bite, plus a slight heat that in no way overpowers the crab.

OH...  Then you have the pop of the raw cilantro (coriander) seeds.


Oh wait.  We still have 1/2 pound of crab meat.
 Let's make some crab cakes.
I'm not particularly fond of mayonnaise, so my crab cakes today are mayonnaise-free.
And they don't seem to suffer at all from the lack of mayo.

Rosie's Mayonnaise-Less Crab Cakes
1/2 lb. crab meat
1 TB minced celery
1 TB minced green pepper
1 TB chopped parsley
1/2 tsp lime zest
1 egg
1 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
8 Saltine crackers, crumbled/crushed

Mix well all ingredients except crab meat.  Gently fold in the crab meat.
Lightly form into patties.
This made 5 cakes with 3-inch diameter and about 1/2 inch thick.
Refrigerate at least one hour.

For the breading:
12 Ritz crackers
12 Saltines
Crush together.

Press crab cakes into breading on both sides.

Pour a film of peanut oil into a skillet and melt 1-2 TB unsalted butter.  When butter is sizzling and temperature is about 375°, slide in the crab cakes.  Cook about 3 minutes each side, or until golden brown.

I served my mayonnaise-less crab cakes with a mayonnaise-less quasi-remoulade sauce.
You can certainly use the mayonnaise, but I was going with a different option here.

1/4 cup sour cream
1 TB coarse mustard
1 TB lemon juice
2 TB fresh dill
Mix together.
(Now, if you want to add in some hot sauce, some Lea & Perrins,  some sweet relish, and/or some capers, I would not stop you.)

For the step-by-steps:
Picked over crab meat on the left.
Egg mixture on the right.

Add in the crab meat.

Gently mix.

For the breading, I put the Saltines in a plastic bag and rolled over with a rolling pin.
I don't want them all crushed to a powder.  I like different sizes.

Sprinkle in the Saltines.
Be gentle.  Don't break up the meat.
Form into patties.
And refrigerate at least an hour.

Sprinkle with a coating of Ritz and Saltines and press into the cakes.

And sauté until golden brown.

Pretty much pure crab.

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