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Gratifying crab cakes with unique sauce

January 3, 2012

My parents used to say that when they went to my grandmother for parenting advice, she would tell them that children should be like pancakes — you ought to be able to throw the first one out and start over.

I couldn’t help remembering that anecdote during my last cooking endeavor and thinking that her analogy should also apply to crab cakes.
Using my cousin and former Starkville resident Nancy Prince’s recipe, I tried to make crab cakes at home the other day, since they’re one of my favorite items to order when I eat out, and her recipe looked delicious and simple. Nancy is, for my money, the best cook in our family, and I knew if she liked them, I probably would, too.

The assembly process went well, but the frying — not so much. Much like when I cook pancakes, the first one was a bit undercooked and mangled. The second I almost burned up, but I made the third one almost perfect.

But there’s the rub with cooking. I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen by now, experimenting with different recipes and tools and expanding my wheelhouse as much as possible.

No matter how long I keep at them, though, new recipes will forever call for the same skill required of me when I first began cooking — a lot of practice.

Being reminded of that necessity is nice, especially when I begin to feel overly confident and stop measuring correctly or watching the timer.

In cooking, as in life, a new lesson can always be learned. Though humbling and at times maddening to confront that reality, I’m ultimately refreshed knowing that even my failures will help me become better at what I consider to be a life skill.

While my first attempt at crab cakes won’t win any points for presentation, they still tasted great and were extremely filling — and the accompanying sauce (which I didn’t mess up) gave them a unique twist.

- Crab Cakes with Cool Lime Sauce
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise, divided
- 2 T. lime juice, divided
- 1 cup dry bread crumbs
- 2 cans (6 oz. each) crabmeat, drained, flaked
- Red pepper to taste
- 2 T. chopped green onions
- 1 2 oz. jar pimiento
- 2 T. margarine
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- Mix 1/3 cup mayo, 1 T. lime juice and pepper. Add crabmeat, 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs, pimientos and onion. Shape into four patties; coat in remaining bread crumbs. Cook patties in large nonstick skillet in melted margarine on medium heat three minutes on each side or until browned and thoroughly heated. Serve with Cool Lime Sauce. For sauce, mix remaining mayo, sour cream and 1 T. lime juice in small bowl.

Kate Salter is a lecturer at Mississippi State University. Email her at kbsalter@gmail.com.

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