Californians are not the only ones with a Dungeness obsession. Our fellow West Coasters in Oregon and Washington share that passion for seafood — especially glorious crustaceans.
“While salmon may be the diva of the Pacific Northwest, Dungeness crab is the ingenue who steals the show,” says Seattle-based food writer Naomi Tomky, author of the new “Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook” (Countryman Press, $28).
As you might guess by that diva line, salmon does indeed star in the new book, with recipes for salmon chowder, cedar plank-grilled salmon, slow-roasted salmon, pan-seared salmon with basil and mint and more. But halibut, albacore, trout and shellfish get their share of the spotlight. And Dungeness shines in nine recipes that run the gamut from simply steamed and served with lemon drawn butter to a Dungeness pasta and Dungeness Mofongo.
We have a soft spot for crab cakes — and Tomky does, too. She’s offering a taste of the new book in the form of a recipe for PNW Crab Cakes with Chive Aioli. And, she says, you can put that distinctive yellow spice tin right back on the shelf.
“Leave the Old Bay at home, this ain’t Maryland,” she writes. “The mustard provides plenty of flavor — as does the crab itself, thanks to the sweetness of Dungeness.”
PNW Crab Cakes with Chive Aioli
Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as an entree
½ pound cooked Dungeness crabmeat, from approximately 1 crab
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs, divided use
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lemon, cut in wedges
Chive aioli (recipe follows)
In a mixing bowl, mix the crabmeat, egg, ¾ cup breadcrumbs, Worcestershire, scallions and mustard. Form the mixture into golf ball-sized balls, then flatten them a bit, to about ¾ inch thick.
Spread the remaining breadcrumbs on a plate and dip both sides of each crab cake into them. Refrigerate the cakes for 10-20 minutes. Make the chive aioli while they chill.
To cook the crab cakes, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the cakes in the butter and cook until they are golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side, another 2 minutes. (If you need to do this in batches, add more butter for the second batch.)
Serve with lemon wedges and chive aioli dolloped on top.
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped chives
2 garlic cloves, mashed
Directions: Mix the mayonnaise, chives and garlic together. (Note: This makes a very garlicky aioli. Adjust the garlic to suit your taste.)
— Naomi Tomky, “Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook” (Countryman Press, 2019)
New cookbook alert: Pacific Northwest-style Dungeness crab cakes