Sign of the times

  • Pin It

The horoscope offers a certain charm: Gaze at the dark sky, pick out stars and see the future. Even if science insists that those specks of light have traveled from the past.

I'm willing to gaze at the gray newsprint, pick my pictogram and see my future. If it's good. If it's bad, I assume it applies to someone else.

Still, I hate my star sign. If you're going to join a club and march under its banner and mascot, who wants Cancer? And The Crab?

Presumably, these ancient names once meant something besides "dread disease" and "snappishly ill-tempered." Perhaps they still have secondary meanings, like "painful annual screening" and "scuttles sideways."

I guess making the best of the dreary or surprising is the whole point. If the daily omen predicts: "Things are heading downhill," I dress for sledding. Whereas if it says: "You're in for a delicious evening," I veer literal to crab.

If you're willing to dispense with the snappish and ill-temper-inducing project of prying the meat out of the shell, crab promises many a delicious evening.

Start with a heap of the sweet white lumps, gently mix with something surprising — like ginger, cilantro and coconut — pat, coat and crisp. It's all good. And no arrangement of the stars can claim otherwise.

Ginger crabcakes

Prep: 30 minutes

Chill: 1 hour

Cook: 4 minutes per batch

Makes: 8

Ingredients:

1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1/4cup finely chopped cilantro

1/4cup finely chopped scallions

2 tablespoons grated ginger

1/4teaspoon salt

1/4teaspoon ground red pepper

1 1/2cups fresh breadcrumbs*

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Mix: Settle crabmeat in a medium bowl. Whisk together mayo, coconut milk, cilantro, scallions, ginger, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs. Pour over crab. Mix gently with a fork.

Shape: Divide crab mixture and shape into 8 cakes, each about 3 inches in diameter.

Coat: Heap remaining crumbs on a plate. Set each crabcake in crumbs, turning to coat. Set crumb-coated cakes on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour.

Brown: Heat oil and butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Working in two batches, crisp crabcakes golden-brown, about 2 minutes per side. Enjoy warm.

Provenance: Inspired by the late Barbara Tropp and my vibrant friend Jennifer, who dared serve these in Old Bay country.

*Trim crusts from 4 slices white sandwich bread. Tear into a few pieces. Grind in the food processor or blender.

Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at leahreskin@aol.com.

  • Pin It

Local & National Video