The entire time I was editing these photos (note to self, never not use a tripod ever again, girls got some seriously shaky hands), I was repeatedly singing the chorus to Blake Shelton’s “Some Beach” out loud…or was it in my head?? Either way, I could not get that darn song out of my head.
Some beach, somewhere. There’s a big umbrella casting a shadow over an empty chair.
Perhaps it’s because we’re steadily approaching the weekend, but I think it’s just because when I think of crab cakes and tropical fruits I immediately start daydreaming about silky white sand between my toes, warm turquoise waters lapping at my feet and a cold pina colada in my hand.
It just goes with territory.
I make it my personal mission on any type of beach vacation to consume as much seafood as possible, and if crab legs, whole crabs or crab cakes are available, you can bet I’m going to be ordering them. There’s just something about them that scream, “Vacation!” and “Indulgent!” to me.
I’ve had crab cakes in Baltimore, Florida, Bahamas and St.Thomas just to name a few places, but the one place I desperately want to try them at is in Hawaii – a place I’ve never been, but plan to visit on our next big vacation, whenever that may be.
Because we have other obligations this year pulling us in different parts of the country, Hawaii may have to be postponed for a little while, but that doesn’t mean I can’t bring Hawaii to us – with food of course.
These Macadamia Nut Crab Cakes are exactly the kind of crab cakes I picture scattered across menus in all of Hawaii.
Toasted, chopped macadamia nuts are tossed with jumbo lump crab, chopped red peppers, green onion, an egg, low-fat mayo and a scant sprinkling of panko bread crumbs.
They’re formed into patties, pan-seared and then topped with a super quick and tropical salsa made with chopped kiwi, mango, red onion and jalapeno.
I learned a long time ago, the key to a perfect crab cake is to use lump crab meat, as little breading as possible and to mix all of the ingredients as gently as possible. I absolutely loathe when I order crab cakes at a restaurant and they’re plopped down in front of me, hard as rocks and practically all breading, and no crab – it almost warrants a good cry session…almost.
Sure lump crab meat is on the expensive side, but it’s definitely cheaper than buying crab legs or lobster, and is totally fitting for a special occasion – although special occasions in my house apparently means random Tuesday nights.
Another important note, I like to chill them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before frying them up. I find that they hold they’re shape better after a rest in the fridge, but the world won’t end if you can’t wait and want to cook them up right away, they might fall apart a little bit, but the taste will be there, and that’s all that matters.
The “tropical” salsa is very forgiving, you can use pretty much whatever tropical fruits that are fresh at your grocery store, mine just happened to have mango and kiwi, so that’s what I grabbed, but pineapple, guava or even watermelon would also work perfectly. And actually now that I think about it, even banana would pair perfectly with the rich macadamia nuts…
Anyways, the point is, the salsa can really be tailored to your own taste buds. If you want more spice, add more chopped jalapeno; more acid? Add more lime. More smokiness? Add more cumin. It’s really up to you.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to continue to pretend I’m on a beach somewhere…..
- ½ cup finely chopped red pepper
- ¼ cup + ⅛ cup low-fat mayo
- one egg
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- ½ cup toasted chopped macadamia nuts
- 1½ teaspoons lime zest
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup + ⅛ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 pound jumbo lumb crab meat
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 kiwis, skinned, and chopped
- 1 cup chopped mango
- ¼ cup chopped red onion
- 1-2 jalapeños chopped
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- Salt to taste
- In a medium bowl, whisk together, mayo, egg, dijon, lime zest, juice and salt. Toss in red pepper, nuts and bread crumbs.
- Gently fold in crab, trying not to break up the meat until combined.
- Form into 8 patties, and chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
- Heat a large non-stick skillet to a medium-high heat. Add oil. Fry crab cakes until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. If needed, work in batches. You may have to add more oil to the pan, when you flip or if you need to work in batches. Always make sure there is just a little bit of oil coating the pan, otherwise, the cakes won't crisp up.
- Combine all ingredients. Season to taste with salt, pepper and jalapeño.