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Masa Harina Crusted Crab Cakes with Blistered Pepper Sauce

When I start to think about making crab cakes, I can’t help but think of that scene in Forrest Gump when Bubba starts rambling on about all of the different ways to cook shrimp. I kinda feel that way about crab too.

I make crab cakes with all sorts of flavors. If I’m in the mood for Asian, I add lemongrass and ginger to the filling, dip in panko, and pair with  some sort of soy based sauce. Sometimes, I want to go a more traditional route and keep it simple with lemon and parsley.

For the times I am in the mood for southwestern, this is the crab cake I turn to. I’ve added a bit of masa harina (the traditional corn flour used to make tamales and tortillas) to give it a warm flavor distinct to Mexican cooking. Instead of the traditional remoulade, I serve the crab cakes with this brightly colored blistered pepper sauce and black bean mango salad. This presentation is a great way to get the  ”wow factor” going  when the dish comes to the table.

If you are looking for a litle something different in a crab cake, I urge you to give this recipe a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Masa Harina Crusted Crab Cakes with Blistered Pepper Sauce

1 1/4 cups Masa Harina (corn tortilla mix)

1 pound lump crab meat

3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

7 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 1/2 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons olive oil

Sauce:

4 grilled red bell peppers, peeled, seeded and chopped

1/2 small red onion, coarsely chopped

4 cloves roasted garlic, peeled

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon chipotle puree

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup canola oil or olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread Masa Harina on heavy baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool.

Mix crab meat, bell pepper, mayonnaise, cilantro, lime juice and lemon peel in medium bowl. Mix in 3/4 cup toasted Masa Harina. Season to taste with salt. Shape crab mixture into 8 patties.  Place remaining Masa Harina in shallow dish. Add crab cakes 1 at a time, turning to coat. Transfer to baking sheet. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add crab cakes in batches and cook until browned and heated through, about 2 minutes per side.  Note: you may make keep the cooked crab cakes at room temperature up to 2 hours ahead. Place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and reheat at 375 for 7 minutes.

For Sauce: Combine peppers, onion, garlic, vinegar, honey, mustard, chipotle and salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil and blend until emulsified.

To  plate:

Spoon about 1/3 of a cup of the sauce in the center of each plate. Top with a crab cake. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the *Black Bean and Mango Salad over the crab cake.

Black Bean and Mango Salad

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 ripe Mango, peeled, pitted, and finely diced

1/2 small onion, finely diced

1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded, and finely diced

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


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