Crab Cakes with Avocado Sauce

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From the Essential Pépin tv series, Episode 116: Shell-ebration

Delicate to handle, elegant and refined in taste, these crab cakes have just enough bread in them to hold together, with some mayonnaise added for moisture and flavor. Although nothing can replace real crabmeat, you can substitute surimi, the imitation crabmeat made of crab shells and fish such as pollack and cod. Surimi is widely available in markets.—Jacques Pépin

Serves 4 as a first course

1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces crabmeat
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 1/2 slices white bread (1 1/2 ounces), processed to make crumbs (3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons peanut oil

1 small ripe avocado
1 ripe tomato (5 ounces), peeled, halved, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives


FOR THE CRAB CAKES: Pick the crabmeat over for shells and cartilage. Cut it into 1/4-inch pieces. (You should have 1 1/2 loosely packed cups.)

Gently mix the crabmeat with the salt, pepper, thyme, chives, Tabasco, and mayonnaise in a bowl. Add the bread crumbs and toss them lightly into the mixture.

Divide the mixture into portions and form it into patties about 1 inch thick. Handle the mixture gently; the cakes are fragile.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. When it is hot, carefully place the patties in the skillet and cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until nicely browned.

FOR THE SALSA: While the crab cakes are cooking, peel and pit the avocado and coarsely chop it. Combine the avocado and tomato in a bowl. Add the vinegar, oil, pepper, salt, and water, tossing gently to mix.

To serve, spoon the avocado mixture onto four individual plates and sprinkle with the chives. Place the crab cakes on top and serve.

Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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