I was once helped to edit a cookbook devoted entirely to crab cakes, so I considered myself somewhat of an expert on the subject of pan-fried shellfish patties. Dungeness or Chesapeake, cracker crumbs or panko, to Old Bay or not to Old Bay—I thought I'd seen it all. But I'd never come across a recipe quite like the one in this week's Cook the Book selection, Wine Bar Food, for Falafel Crab Cakes.
Chickpeas are prevalent in much of the cooking of southern Spain, and this dish, a specialty of Seville, is no exception. Combined with fresh lemon, earthy cumin, and fragrant cilantro, these crab cakes are best served with a side of tzatziki sauce and pair wonderfully with a glass of sherry.
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- 3/4 cup dried chickpeas
- 1/2 cup (lightly packed) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1/4 jalapeño pepper
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 12 ounces lump blue crab meat
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 to 2 cups extra virgin olive oil, for frying
- Tzatziki Sauce
- 1/2 long seedless cucumber, peeled and grated
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3/4 cup whole-milk yogurt
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
Soak the chickpeas in enough water to cover by several inches for 24 hours.
Drain the chickpeas well and combine in a food processor with the cilantro, scallion, jalapeño, garlic, cumin, and baking powder. Process until the mixture is well combined and the chickpeas are finely chopped; do not process into a paste.
Put the falafel mixture into a large bowl and add the crab meat and the lemon zest. Gently mix and season to taste with salt and pepper. Form the crab mixture into six 2-inch round patties, pressing the ingredients together somewhat firmly. The crab cakes can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours.
Pour 1/2 inch olive oil into a skillet large enough to hold all the crab cakes without touching. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil begins to smoke slightly. Add the crab cakes and cook until golden brown, 5 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels for 2 minutes.
Serve immediately on individual plates with a dollop of tzatziki sauce on the side.
- makes about 2 cups -
Combine the cucumber and the salt in a strainer over a bowl. Let drain for 20 minutes. Squeeze the cucumber with your hands to remove excess water. Transfer to a large bowl and add the yogurt, sour cream, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and mint. Mix well to combine. The tzatziki can be made in advance and refrigerated overnight. Serve chilled.