By Leah Eskin
Chicago Tribune
(TNS)

At the beach, we had vodka flecked with lemon. We had bike rides striped with sunburn. We had crabcakes topped with intrigue.

What was in the tartar sauce? Couldn’t say. My friend, the one who concocts it, guards her legacy. She taunts us with its tangy snap and creamy bite. If I were being held underwater by a tartar-crazed shark, I’d say mayo and relish, but in the comfort of a cabin by the sea, with cocktails and crabcakes and camaraderie, I’m good with having no idea.

We had peaches, which I baked into a crumble under a handful of instant oatmeal. Like everything at the beach, it was delightful. No need to fret the details.

CRAB FRITTERS

Prep: 30 minutes plus 1 hour wait

Cook: 3 minutes per batch

Makes: 16 2-inch cakes

These little puffs are crabcakes fried into a crunchy jacket, which keeps the crabmeat moist. Tartar sauce optional.

Crabcakes:

1 pound jumbo lump meat crab, drained of any liquid, any stray shell shards removed
2/3 cup finely chopped green onions
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Batter:

2 eggs, separated
1 cup beer
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

For frying:

Canola oil

  1. Shape: To make crabcakes, combine all ingredients and mix gently with a fork. Press firmly into 16 cakes, each 2 inches in diameter (or make 32 1-inch diameter baby cakes). Cover with plastic, and chill 1 hour (or more).
  2. Mix: To make batter, beat egg whites to sturdy peaks. Whisk together remaining ingredients (including yolks). Fold in egg whites. Cover and set aside, 1 hour.
  3. Fry: Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches in a deep cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven. Heat to 350 degrees. Set one cake on a slotted spoon. Dip cake in batter, then slide it into the hot oil. Repeat, frying a few at a time until golden brown, turning once, about 3 minutes total for 2-inch cakes, 2 minutes for 1-inch cakes. Lift out with a clean slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels. Enjoy hot.

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