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Wine Country Recipe ~ Crab Cakes with Fennel, Watercress, and Blood Orange-Chive Aioli

March 1st, 2018

These crab cakes are fresh, delicate and lightly bound with baby shrimp, which amplify the crab’s natural sweetness. Pair with your favorite Temecula Valley sparkling wine.

Makes about 12 cakes; serves 4 as a meal or 6 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

Crab Cakes:
1/2 pound cooked baby shrimp
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) plus 2 cups for dredging
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over to remove cartilage
1 small red jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Aioli:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Greek-style whole milk yogurt
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh blood orange juice
2 teaspoons minced chives
1 teaspoon finely grated blood orange zest
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons vegetable oil for pan-frying

Salad:
1 large blood orange
1 medium fennel bulb, halved, very thinly sliced crosswise
1 bunch watercress, tough stems discarded
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges

Directions:

In a food processor, pulse the shrimp to a coarse paste. Transfer the shrimp to a large bowl, add the 1/4 cup panko and the remaining crab cake ingredients. Gently mix to combine.

Pour 2 cups panko into a shallow bowl. With wet hands, gently form the crab into 2-inch patties, about 3/4-inch thick. Carefully turn the patties in the panko to lightly coat, place on a plate and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a small bowl, whisk the aioli ingredients.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add about half of the crab cakes, without overcrowding the pan, and pan fry until golden brown on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining crab cakes. Keep warm while you assemble the salad.

Cut a slice off the tops and bottoms of the orange. Use a sharp knife to cut away the peel and white pith. Working over a bowl to catch the juices, slice out the orange segments from their membranes. Place the segments in a large bowl and squeeze as much juice as possible from the membranes into the bowl with the juices (there should be about 2 tablespoons).

Add the fennel and watercress to the oranges. Drizzle the juices and the olive oil over the salad, lightly season with salt and pepper, and gently toss. Mound the salad on 4 serving plates and garnish with the chopped chives. Arrange 3 crab cakes next to each salad and serve with lemon wedges and the aioli for dipping.

Suggested pairings: 

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa ~ Crisp acidity and delicate yeastiness are enveloped in a rich tropical fruit aroma.

Thornton Winery NV Brut ~ This Non-Vintage Brut is a blend of primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, giving the wine exciting, crisp fruit characters.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Wine Institute of California

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