Deep-fried Crab Balls with Jicama-Pepper Panache
This is an updated version of traditional Maryland crab cakes, with a decidedly Southwestern relish. Pasta takes the place of bread crumbs, giving the crab balls a spiked appearance. The panache is a wonderful accompaniment for any grilled or broiled food. Make it the day before you plan to serve it. The crab mixture may also be made a day in advance and kept refrigerated, tightly covered. If the crab balls are fried in advance, or if there are leftovers (unlikely1), reheat them in a 400 F oven for a few minutes to crisp.
- Yellow Bell Pepper - 1, seeded, deribbed, and cut into fine julienne
- Jicama - 1, peeled and julienned
- Red Onions - 1 cup, thinly sliced
- Cayenne or Jalapeno Chili - 1, seeded, deribbed, and finely chopped
- Limes - 4
- Orange - 1
- Salt to taste
- Crab Balls
- Capellini or Vermicelli - 1/2 pound, cooked al dente, drained, and rinsed
- Fresh cooked lump or blue crabmeat - 1 pound
- Green Onions - 3, trimmed, with entire white part and 2 inches of green part finely chopped
- Eggs - 4, lightly beaten
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese - 1/4 cup
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Freshly ground pepper - 1/2 teaspoon
- Cayenne pepper to taste
- Oil for deep frying
- Ripe Avocado - 1, peeled, sliced, and tossed with lemon juice to prevent discoloration
- Cilantro sprigs
To make the panache: One day ahead, mix the pepper, jicama, onions, and chili in a non-aluminum bowl. Squeeze the juice from the limes and orange and pour over the vegetables. Toss with a little salt and allow to marinate overnight, stirring occasionally.
To make the crab balls: Preheat the oven to 150 F. Mix all the ingredients except the oil in a bowl. Toss with your hands, breaking up the pasta slightly and making sure the ingredients are well mixed. Form into 36 balls about the size of a walnut. Heat the oil to 360 F in a deep fryer or deep pan. Fry the crab balls until golden brown. Do not crowd the pan; fry in batches if necessary, letting the oil return to temperature between batches. Drain on paper towels. Keep the fried crab balls warm in the oven while frying other batches.
To serve: Place 4 to 6 crab balls on each plate. Mound panache next to them. Garnish the plates with two avocado slices and sprigs of cilantro.