Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Crispy, Crunchy, Crab

Good evening everyone! It seems like every chef, no matter the experience level, has that one ingredient that they've just never been able to get right. No matter how many times you try to make it, or how many different ways you attempt, whenever this ingredient comes up, something goes wrong. For the longest time, Maggie struggled with fish recipes - never quite hitting the execution she was looking for. I struggled for a while trying to get a breading technique down to a science.

Eventually, both Maggie and I mastered our tricky ingredients - a sign that persistence pays off! That doesn't mean we're without new "tricky" ingredients, however. Despite my best efforts, I've never been able to pull of a crab dish to my liking. Additionally, frying things in hot oil has been a bane of my cooking experience as well. Tonight, I'm meeting both of these challenges head on. We're using crab...and we're frying it in oil.

Bring it on.

The Recipe: Crab Balls With Salsa
Original Recipe Found In: Jamie's America

What You'll Need:
(Serves 4)

3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
3 Cups Bread Crumbs*
3 Large Eggs
14 Ounces White Crabmeat
2 Lemons (1 cut into wedges, 1 zested and juiced)
Fresh Italian Parsley, Chopped Fine
1 Quart Vegetable Oil
Cayenne Pepper (Pinch)

*Note: This quantity is if you're using 'fresh' or homemade bredcrumbs. If you're using store brand or packaged breadcrumbs, 1 cup will more than suffice

To begin, set up your workstation much like you would if you were doing one of our countless breading dishes. Line up 3 large plates, flour on the first plate, egg white on the second (save the yolks, keep those in a bowl) and breadcrumbs on the third.

Add the crab meat to the bowl of egg yolks and add the lemon zest and fresh parsley along with a pinch of salt and pepper and the cayenne. Using your hands, mix everything together. Next, (after washing your hands) grab a small handful of breadcrumbs and add them to the mixture. You want to add just enough to bind everything together, but try to avoid making breadcrumbs the star of the mixture. Divide this mixture into 4 equal piles.

Grab one of the piles and work it into an orange sized ball with your hands, making sure to pack them nice and tight. Next, roll the ball in the flour mixture, then carefully roll it in the egg white mixture before finally rolling it in the bread crumb mixture to form an exterior breading. Make repeat this process until all 4 balls are covered completely in breadcrumbs.

If you have time, set the balls on a plate in the refrigerator for about an hour. This helps them "firm up" a little prior to cooking. It's not required, but it may make the next steps a little easier.

Once you're ready to cook, add your vegetable oil into a deep sauce pan or pot and set it over medium heat. Bring the oil up to 350 degrees (if you don't have a kitchen thermometer - get one - it's much too difficult to gauge oil temp without it).

Once your oil is up to heat, carefully add the crab balls to the pot and allow them to fry for about 5 minutes or until they turn nice and golden brown. Use a strainer or perforated spoon to pluck the balls out of the oil and set them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil that drips off. Serve immediately with a side of fresh salsa and a lemon wedge. Enjoy!

The Results:

Crab - consider yourself conquered! These little breaded balls of wonder are full of flavor that allows the crab meat to shine alongside the parsley, lemon juice, cayenne filling. The balls are nice and crunchy on the outside while being delightfully soft on the inside.

While I was initially skeptical about serving these with salsa, I'll say it is almost a necessity with the dish. The flavor perfectly compliments the crab ball and really adds to the final dish. Don't omit the salsa, embrace it! (Metaphorically of course - don't actually hug your salsa).

Finally, the last bane of my cooking experience - oil frying - we can also strike this one as conquered. By simply adding a thermometer to the equation, it was easy to determine when the oil hit 350 and when it was time to start cooking. No fires, no smoke - no disaster. Hooray!

That's all we have for you this evening, Maggie takes to the kitchen tomorrow night with a brad new dish of her own. Until then,


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