New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the world because of its rich history, diverse culture, quaint courtyards and wrought-iron balconies, jazz and blues on every corner and most of all the delicious spicy Cajun and Creole food this city is famous for. There is a difference between Cajun (French Louisiana settlers) and Creole (early French and Spanish settlers) and the food is slightly different in style although the ingredients used in dishes are similar – the “Holy Trinity” of green peppers, onions and celery, seafood (crawfish, shrimp, oysters), sausages, roux (flour cooked in fat as a thickening base for soups, stews and gumbos), hot sauce (Tabasco) and Cajun/Creole Spices made of cayenne, salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, mustard powder, basil, thyme and cloves (here’s a great recipe to make your own or Tony Chacere’s is a great one that is pre-made).
Creole cuisine is slightly more refined and lighter in spices and seasonings than Cajun cuisine, based on classical French cooking technique. Creole food has influences from France, Spain, Africa, Germany and Italy and typical Creole dishes include Oysters Rockefeller, Baked Fish Creole, Shrimp Etoufee, Remoulade Sauce and Bananas Foster. Cajun food is considered more of a “peasant country food” and tends to have spicier, more pungent, heavier ingredients and one-pot dishes. Typical Cajun dishes include Gumbo and Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Crawfish Cornbread Dressing and Po-Boy Sandwiches.
Whether its Cajun or Creole, celebrate Mardi Gras “Fat Tuesday” by cooking up some of these crunchy, golden Crab Cakes with a Spicy Remoulade Sauce and serve it with a Mixed Greens Salad of Endive, Escarole or Chicory, with a Creamy Shallot French Vinaigrette.
½ lb jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over (large chunks)
3 tbsp finely chopped red pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped shallots
2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
¼ c mayonnaise
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
Tabasco, several dashes (to taste)
Canola oil, for sautéing
Chives and Lemon wedges, for garnish
Combine crabmeat, red pepper, shallots and parsley in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine mayo and egg; season with cayenne and Tabasco. Gently stir in crab mixture and mix to combine. Stir in 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs to make the crab cakes hold together, and if necessary, add another 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs. Form into 4 crab cakes and coat with the Panko. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to fry.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
Add in crab cakes and cook over medium-high heat until the crab cakes are lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Flip crab cakes over and continue cooking another 2 minutes on the other side, or until lightly golden. Transfer to a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake the crab cakes 10 minutes to cook through.
Spicy Remoulade Sauce
1 ½ c mayonnaise
3 tbsp capers, drained and chopped
3 tbsp chopped cornichons (small sweet gherkins)
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp chopped chervil
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp anchovy paste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3-4 dashes Tabasco
In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, capers, cornichons, chives, chervil, tarragon, mustard, anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the sauce with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to overnight.
Place a dollop of Remoulade with garnishes of chopped chives and sliced lemons with the Crab Cakes. Serve with a crisp white wine and mixed greens (Endive, Escarole or Chicory) with a Creamy Shallot Vinaigrette (recipe follows).
Makes about 1 pint.
Mixed Greens with Creamy Shallot Vinaigrette
Beat 1 egg yolk with 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard and 2 tbsp minced shallots. Slowly, in a thin stream, add ¾ c vegetable oil and blend well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over mixed greens such as Endive, Escarole or Chicory.
Makes 8 servings.
Recipes originated from Chef Gail Katz and ICE
Check out Tabasco.com for more great Mardi Gras recipes (Gumbo, Jambalaya, Etoufee & King Cakes!)