Easy dinner recipes: It's Friday. Celebrate with crab cakes

Easy dinner recipes: It's Friday. Celebrate with crab cakes
The light, crispcrab cakes from Traxx restaurant in Los Angeles are big on flavor and size. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

It's Friday. Why not celebrate with crab cakes? It's almost pointless ordering a main course at a restaurant when you can make a meal off of an appetizer plate of these delights. And they're just as easy to make at home, coming together -- start to finish -- in about an hour or less. Check out these options:

Traxx crab cakes: The light, crisp crab cakes from Traxx restaurant in Los Angeles are big on flavor and size. Large chunks of crabmeat are gently folded into a colorful mix of diced red onion, parsley, cilantro and minced sourdough with more than a hint of spice thrown in for added kick.

Oceanaire Seafood Room's Maryland-style crab cakes: For Maryland-style crab cakes, look no further than Oceanaire Seafood Room's generously sized cakes. They're baked, not fried, making each bite tender and soft. Best of all? They can be assembled a few hours ahead of time and refrigerated, then baked before serving. Perfect after a long day, or if you're planning for company.

Wild Ginger's Dungeness crab cakes with lime dipping sauce: Or throw a little Asian fusion into the mix with red curry paste, cilantro and fresh ginger flavor. Wild Ginger's crab cakes are bound only with eggs -- no bread filler needed here. Light with a crisp panko crust, they're served with a bright and spicy lime dipping sauce. Hungry yet? You can find the recipe below.



Total time: About 35 minutes, plus 30 minutes chilling time / Serves 8

Note: Adapted from "I Love Crab Cakes!" by Tom Douglas with Shelley Lance. Curry paste and sambal oelek, a ground chile paste, can be found in Asian markets and well-stocked supermarkets.

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon Southeast Asian red curry paste

2 green onions, white part only, minced

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1 1/2 tablespoons minced cilantro stems

1 1/2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger

1 pound Dungeness crab meat, drained, picked clean of shell and lightly squeezed if wet

2 cups panko bread crumbs

3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons sambal oelek

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh dill

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh mint

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh Thai or regular basil

Peanut or canola oil for frying

1. For the crab cakes, whisk the eggs lightly in a large mixing bowl. Add the curry paste and whisk until completely blended. Using a rubber spatula, mix in the green onions, shallots, cilantro and ginger. When everything is well combined, gently stir in the crab meat and mix well.

2. Spread 1 1/2 cups panko in a wide shallow container. Divide the crab mixture into 8 mounds and gently squeeze out any excess liquid. Shape the crab mixture into patties, laying them in the panko. Sprinkle as much of the remaining panko as needed to cover the tops. Cover the crab cakes with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes (these do not sit well overnight).

3. For the dipping sauce, combine 2 tablespoons of water with the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, sambal oelek, garlic, dill, mint and basil in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.

4. Place two large nonstick or cast-iron skillets (or use one pan and cook in batches) over medium-high heat and pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pans by about one-eighth inch. When the oil is hot, shake the excess panko from the crab cakes, add 4 to each pan and reduce the heat to medium. Fry until the cakes are golden brown and heated through, turning once with a spatula to brown both sides, 3 to 5 minutes on a side. Reduce the heat as needed so they don't brown too quickly.

5. Drain on paper towels and serve with the dipping sauce.

Each serving: 249 calories; 15 grams protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 17 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 96 mg. cholesterol; 798 mg. sodium.

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