Sunday, September 5, 2010

Crab Cakes and Memories of Hawaii

Travel is a passion. When I had the opportunity to see the world by working for a travel agency, I took it.

In August 2001, I got the coveted ten-year US Visa. A month after,  9-11 happened. My trip  was cancelled and I never got to use my visa until 6 months before the it expired.

Destination: Honolulu, Hawaii.

While I got to frolic along the shores of the famed Waikiki beach, meet the funniest fire-eating performer and ride a submarine to see 200-year old porpoises...

it was the simplest experience of eating at Hawaii's  version of a carinderia that resonates the clearest in my memory. 

I discovered Bluewater Shrimp and Seafood  on my way back to the hotel. A rundown blue bus converted into a mobile food stall sat on an empty lot in between multi-storied hotels.

A few tables and chairs were scattered beside it and another bus-cum-food stall sat beside it serving burrito and other Mexican food that are apparently favorites of hungry surfers.

It was the the line of Japanese tourists (and not a congregation of half-naked surfers stuffing themselves with beans and ground beef) that got my attention when I passed by the empty lot.
And when it comes to seafood, I trust the Japanese. And they were right to fall in line for a serving of the seafood platter: black-crusted Mahimahi fillet, grilled shrimps with a light lemon vinaigrette, fresh greens and for the carboholic dudes, half a toasted bun, corn on the cob and herbed steamed white rice.

And when I had my fill of the Seafood platter, I deigned to sample what the Japanese seated at the next table were eating... clams sauteed in tomatoes and garlic...
and the inspiring snow crab platter.

It was a pity, I never got to sample the specialties of the Shrimp Shack in Oahu on my way to the Polynesian cultural center (which serves, as part of its luau dinner,  roast suckling pig, a poor runner up to our very own Lechon Cebu, if I may say so). But then, it only means that I still have something to look forward to when I get another chance to go to Hawaii.

In the meantime, when I crave for crabs, one of my easiest solutions is to make crab cakes. Here's ma recipe I have been working on for a few months now. 


500 grams fresh crab meat
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
5 tablespoons Japanese mayonnaise
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter (keep at room temperature)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Drain crab meat; gently squeeze to get as much of the liquid out as possible and remove all the bits of shell and cartilage.
I tried using French's mustard as an alternative but I find stone ground mustard provides more tang and texture.
Put the crab meat in a bowl. Mix in all ingredients, careful not to over handle the mixture (or else it will turn into mush!).

Form into 2-inch wide, 1/2 inch thick patties. Fry in a mixture of oil and butter until golden brown. Place the fried patties on a paper towel to drain the oil.

Serve with a dollop of Japanese mayonnaise over a bed of lettuce chiffonade and a siding of yellow mango salsa.

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