Not every recipe that appears on this blog is triggered by some meaningful source of inspiration. Yes, from time to time a recipe just is. It’s not an homage to a childhood memory or the result of a mind-blowing experience at a restaurant. Sometimes a recipe is just a means of satisfying a VERY specific craving. These Angel Hair Crab Cakes with Saffron Aioli are one such recipe. Sure, the aioli reminds me of my trip to Barcelona and sure, the crab cakes take me back to many brunches past, but they’re not the specific result of any of those touchstones. These are crab cakes without a story. I realize this isn’t a very hooky opening paragraph, but if you enjoy watching bloggers flounder you should probably keep on reading.
The cool thing about having your own blog is you can make whatever the hell you want. The things you can’t make for certain clients or stuff that just doesn’t fit with any one project. The downside is you have to write an entire blog post about the why you made it. This is a real problem when you have no idea why you made it. Sometimes things just stroll into your head and you want to eat them. Sometimes you just want to make something for the sole purpose of photographing it. Sometimes you just want to let your creativity roam wild and free…or something like that. Life is random and so is my creative output.
But enough about my inability to create a narrative around these Angel Hair Crab Cakes, let’s talk, well, Angel Hair Crab Cakes. I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of fried noodle nests but I’d never tried my hand at them. So, when a crab cake craving hit I thought, why not marry the two? I would get my crab cakes and some quality noodle nest practice at the same time. It was the very definition of a win-win. Using angel hair in the place of mashed potato made for slightly unwieldy crab cakes. But in the end, the results were delicious and, in my opinion, texturally superior. Just steel yourself against frustration when you’re forming the crab cakes – they will try your patience.
Even the best crab cakes border on the dry side. That’s why the accompanying sauce, whatever it may be, is so very important. There’s no sense in spending time creating decadent crab cakes if you’re not going to close the deal with a stellar sauce. Typically, tartar sauce is the sauce of choice. It makes sense, I have never met a person who didn’t like tartar sauce. There are literally hundreds of vegan tartar sauce recipes on the Internets and a large volume of vegan alternatives is the smoking gun of extreme popularity. But, no, tartar sauce seemed too blah. I was following my bliss, after all, it might as well take me somewhere interesting. So, my bliss landed on aioli and here we are.
Aioli can be intimidating, but I would say needlessly so. I know, we’ve all heard the horror stories of separating sauces, wasted egg yolks, and the bitter taste of emulsion-related defeat. But, really, you don’t have anything to worry about. I am no genius and I’ve never had an aioli separate on me, and I’m not always the most attentive cook. You got this.
I apologize, this post was devoid of substance or insight but sometimes there isn’t much to say. Yes, sometimes you just have to shrug and eat the damn crab cake. If everything was meaningful nothing would be. But while these Angel Hair Crab Cakes are anecdote-free, they do represent one of the most beautiful aspects of life: there are moments when you can choose joy above all else and make exactly what you want without compromise. These moments are more scarce than one would care to admit, so I say when they present themselves don’t hesitate. Eat life like a sandwich or a crab cake as the case may be.
- 230 g (8 oz) dried capellini
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/ 4 cup white wine
- 230 g (8 oz) lump crab meat
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup mayo
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons warm water
- Pinch of Saffron
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg yolk
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 1/4 cup good-quality olive oil
- Place saffron in a small bowl and pour the warm water over top. Set aside to steep.
- Using a mortar and pestle grind the garlic cloves and salt together to form a paste.
- Spoon the paste into a food processor and add the egg yolk, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Blitz until uniform.
- With the food processor running, stream in the grape seed oil. The mixture should begin to emulsify.
- Turn off the food processor and transfer the mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- While whisking constantly, add the olive oil a little at a time until gone. Hand whisking the olive oil will keep it from getting bitter.
- Strain and add the saffron liquid to the aioli and whisk until smooth, silky and bright yellow in color.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Cook capellini according to package directions. Drain, rinse and set aside to cool.
- In a large skillet heat a quarter-size amount of olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.
- Add the onion to the pan and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
- Season the garlic and onions with salt and deglaze the pan with white wine. Cook until the wine is reduced by half. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- Place pasta in a large mixing bowl and top with onion/garlic mixture, crab meat, eggs, mayo, bread crumbs, Dijon mustard, parsley, lemon juice, and salt & pepper. Using clean hands, mix the ingredients together until relatively uniform.
- Form the crab cake mixture into 4-5-inch patties. Place them on a plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Heat 1/2-inch of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add 4 cakes to the pan at a time and fry until golden. About 4 minutes a side.
- Place finished cakes on a plate lined with paper towel and keep warm until all the cakes are done.
- Serve immediately with a side of saffron aioli and a wedge of lemon.