nigel’s top ten - crab cakes and crushed peas

these crab cakes really appealed. i adore crab and little cakes made zingy with asian flavours – lemongrass, lime zest, ginger, chilli and spring onions – seemed like a perfect place to start with my top ten challenge. i was a little unsure about combining them with minty crushed peas – this felt a little bit like trad english flavours - but given how often mint appears in asian recipes i decided to give the recipe the benefit of the doubt.

so, how did i get on?

it’s a quick and easy recipe to pull together, especially if, like me, you use a mini food processor to blitz all the flavourings together before you stir them in with the crab. i used a couple of dressed crabs to get the white and brown meat combination and think this worked well at creating an intense flavour. they also held together very well when being cooked.

the final verdict:

would i have tried this recipe if it hadn't been part of nigel’s top ten? yes – the asian flavours appealed to me.

would i try this recipe again in the future? not in its entirety – i didn’t think the crab/minty peas combination worked. not least because it felt like quite a dry dish. i liked the crab cakes, although i would probably add a tin of white crab meat to lighten the texture of the finished cakes. i would also give the peas a miss - an asian-flavoured slaw would probably be a better accompaniment.

nigel slater’s  crab cakes and crushed peas (june 2008) serves 2-3

300g crab meat

 a large stick or 2 smaller ones of lemon grass

the zest and juice of 1 lime

ginger - a thumb-sized piece

2 spring onions

1 small hot chilli

coriander leaves  - a small handful, chopped

8 tablespoons soft white breadcrumbs

1 large egg

flour a little

oil for cooking

for the minted pea purée:

400g shelled peas

4 sprigsmint

3 tabelspoons olive oil

put the crab meat into a mixing bowl. discard the outer leaves of the lemon grass, then chop the inner leaves very finely and add the crab with the zest and juice of the lime. peel and finely grate the ginger, finely chop the spring onions and the chilli and gently stir into the crab meat, making sure not to crush the crab meat into a paste.

fold in the chopped coriander and the breadcrumbs together with the egg, beaten, and a tablespoon or so of flour, just enough to bring the mixture together. grind in a little black pepper.

take up scoops of the mixture and pat in to small thickish cakes, then let them sit for 30 minutes in the fridge. the mixture should make about six thick patties. warm a shallow film of oil in a frying pan. lower in the crab cakes, leave until golden on the underside, then turn tenderly and cook the other side. (moving the cakes too often will result in their crumbling.)

serve with pea purée. to make the purée, boil the peas and mint sprigs in lightly salted water till tender, drain and whiz peas and the mint in a food processor with the oil till smooth.