If you’re Italian, you’re probably familiar with the Feast of the Seven Fishes celebrated on Christmas Eve. My sisters and I grew up with this wonderful tradition when my parents would go all out to make this delicious feast for the family to celebrate the holiday. My mother would make her stuffed calamari, and my father was sure to make the octopus salad (as a kid, I couldn’t get past the suction cups on the tentacles, but I grew to love it!). They’d also make cod cakes and shrimp scampi over vermicelli or spaghetti with white clam sauce. Sometimes, we’d have baked stuffed lobsters or baked stuffed shrimp. Definitely a seafood extravaganza!
When I think about Christmas dinner the next day with Italian wedding soup with both meatballs and Romano cheese balls, followed by lasagna, then followed by the roast stuffed turkey, it’s a wonder we didn’t all burst. That’s a lot of food to consume in less than 24 hours. (My mother was a stickler for having the Christmas dinner at 12 Noon sharp!) Burp…
Once my husband and I moved to Chicago, that Italian Christmas Eve dinner became a thing of the past. It was too much for me to do on my own with three very young children, and it just wasn’t the same without my extended family around to pitch in with their special culinary contributions. Trust me—we still had a very nice meal, but it just wasn’t the fish feast I was used to.
This year, Roger suggested that we make the Feast of the Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve. He volunteered to make one or two of the dishes, and our daughters said they would do the same. How could I refuse?
To that end, Roger and I decided to try a few trial dishes in advance of the kids showing up on our doorstep, and our first new recipe is for a very delicious crab cake with a remoulade sauce that I could eat with a spoon. Roger did the honors, and I came home to a mini crab cake tasting supper as he made three different crab cake recipes. What a guy—we’ve been married so long that I’m afraid he’s turning into me!
One year ago: Chocolate Biscotti with Sliced Almonds
Guest Post by Roger
Our Crab Cake Recipe for the Feast of the Seven Fishes
Luca Brasi sleeps with the seven fishes.
This choice resulted from a bakeoff among three recipes designated as Bobby Flay’s, Maryland III, and Lori’s. I prepared all recipes from the same stock of ingredients and followed the recipes as close as possible. I split one pound of crab meat into three equal portions for each recipe. I made two cakes for each recipe, fried one, and baked the other. I made two sauces for toppings; remoulade and tequila lime aioli.
We sampled each of the cakes with and without sauces, and sampled each sauce by itself.
All of the crab cakes were wonderful, but the Lori’s recipe stands out. I preferred Lori’s because of the presence of other ingredients – I am not a big fan of crustaceans. Fran, who loves crab and lobster, also preferred Lori’s.
Sauces: Both sauces when sampled on their own were spectacular. There is no other word! Well, I guess Fran would say they were frantastic. However, as a sauce for the crab cakes, the remoulade is better suited; whereas, the aioli goes better with fish tacos. So here’s the winning recipe which Fran and I will prepare for this year’s Feast of the Seven Fishes!
1/3+ cup dry bread crumbs
1/3+ green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/3+ red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
5 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. Sriracha sauce
1 egg white
2 tbl. mayonnaise
1 tbl. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Old Bay TM seasoning
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. onion powder
3 (6 ounce) cans crabmeat, drained and flaked
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (for coating)
Finely chop green and red peppers. Be sure to trim off all of the pith. Finely chop green onions – I slice them lengthwise twice (orthogonally), then cross cut into small pieces. I then microwave the onions and peppers for about one minute. Microwaving can be skipped if you prefer crisp veggies.
In a bowl, toss together the 1/3 cup bread crumbs, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, green onions, and parsley. Mix in the egg white, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard. Season with Old Bay seasoning, dry mustard, and onion powder. Fold crabmeat into the mixture. Consistency should be soggy but not runny. Adjust accordingly with bread crumbs and mayonnaise. For snack size, form into 12 cakes about 1/2” thick. Coat in the remaining 1/2 cup bread crumbs and place on a cookie sheet. Put in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
To Bake: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place cookie sheet with cakes in the oven on the upper third shelf. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn cakes over with a spatula and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.
To Fry: Heat cooking oil in a large, heavy skillet. Fry the cakes 5 minutes on each side, or until evenly brown (medium high heat). Drain on paper towels.
Serve drizzled with remoulade sauce.
I would not use the food processor to chop the veggies – preferring to chop by hand into little cubes without generating any liquid.
When I made these I used 1/3 recipe as part of my test of three crab cake recipes. I put in a heaping tablespoon of each veggie, which is more than 1/4 cup when scaled up to full recipe. It was just the way it worked out, and when I looked at the mix, it looked good – aesthetically pleasing! So, I would put in at least 1/3 cup of each veggie for the full recipe.
Several commenters mentioned that they preferred more Old Bay seasoning. I took their advice.
Source: Adapted from Lori’s Famous Crab Cakes recipe
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 tsp. minced onion
4 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
3 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp. capers, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tbl. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cayenne
Mix all remoulade ingredients and store in fridge until ready to use.
Source: Remoulade Sauce included in a crab cake recipe by Brown Eyed Baker