Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ode To Sponge Bob

So, apparently myself and Moses Paltrow have something in common: we were both curious as to precisely what Sponge Bob and his Bikini Bottom-residing pals are ingesting when they tuck into a krabby pattie. Until Gwyneth (literally) stepped up to the plate and solved that great mystery. See, Moses was actually willing to admit that he didn't know, and came straight out and asked the question. Me, I just sat there on the sofa for years acting like I totally knew what krabbie patties are, sneaking sidelong glances at my nephews to discern if they didn't know either so I wouldn't look like a moron if I asked. So, thanks for that, Moses. Mystery solved in his mommy's cookbook. Not that it's the world's most mysterious mystery - they are very simple crab cake burgers, and the Gwynster serves them up with a little something she calls spicy remoulade: it's amazing. While crab cake burgers are speedy and easy and tasty, this rather special condiment requires a little more time, but it will make you immensely happy and really must feature in further adventures in seafood-eating. 

I made the burgers the night before I planned to eat them; they need that time to firm up in the fridge, and  they're ready and waiting to hit the pan, then, when you get home. Dice three shallots and soften them up on the pan, and then after they have cooked and cooled add them to 450g crabmeat, 2 tablespoons parsley, the zest of a lemon, 2 beaten eggs, salt, pepper and 100g breadcrumbs. Now, the recipe also specifies Veganaise. I would LOVE to know how many people who follow these recipes bother their bums to go out and buy Veganaise. My greed and laziness are considerably more powerful than my curiosity, so I used 175ml of homemade mayo instead. 

The squelching together (VERY technical term) of the ingredients is a rather therapeutic part of the process.

As is that rather satisfying action of scooping small balls of your mixture and patting them into perfect round burgers in the palm of your hand. Cling film keeps it all neat and intact, and then into the fridge with them to make them a little more pan-worthy - otherwise it's all just a big sloppy mess. 

I had never heard of sriracha before, and now I am fully educated in the ways of the of this utterly delicious sauce I haven't stopped trying to come up with ways to introduce it to meals. There are quite a few steps involved in making it, so put it all together the night before. Start off by blanching 170g peeled garlic cloves twice. So: cover it all with cold water, bring to the boil, cool it under the tap and repeat. 

Slice up the blanched cloves and then add 450g jalapenos and 550ml rice wine vinegar. The recipe specifies red jalapenos, sliced into thin rings; I took the seriously lazy route and grabbed a jar of green ones in the supermarket, which is why my sriracha turned out green instead of the usual red colour. It could have been even more amazing if I had done as I was told. Must Try Harder. Anyhow - after this lot comes to the boil, it cooks for three minutes, gets 75ml agave nectar and 2 tablespoons of salt in there and sits to steep for an hour. 

After whizzing it up in the blender, it goes back on the hob for a  10-15 minute simmer so that it can thicken up a little.

I had to hunt high and low for arrowroot and eventually got my hands on it in a health food store. 1 tablespoon arrowroot and 1 tablespoon water are blended nice and smoothly and then whisked through the sauce, cooking for two minutes until it has thickened further. 

After it has cooled, in goes 2 tablespoons fish sauce. 

I got through this so quickly that I should be too embarrassed to admit it - it went on everything I ate for two weeks solid.

When I saw cornicons in the ingredients list, I pretty much immediately decided that they were going to be up there with Veganaise on the 'mmm, hmmm, sure, like that's going to be on a shelf ANYWHERE'. And how wrong I was. 

After the rigmarole of the sriracha-making, the spicy remoulade that it goes in to is a cinch: 250ml mayo, 10 cornichons finely chopped, 2 teaspoons chopped onion, 1 teaspoon sriracha, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and the juice of half a lemon. 

I tend to burst in the door home after work with an awful hunger on me. I like to make sure that I manage to eat before I'm at the point where it doesn't matter what I eat and you might as well hook me up to a drip full of Complan. I need to still be able to taste and enjoy my food, in spite of my hunger, so I like to have everything lined up and barely in need of cooking by the time I land in the kitchen. My krabby patties sat neatly and obediently on the pan and it was a matter of mere minutes to cook them. They were so perfectly firmed that they glided gloriously about the pan without any of those annoying moments where bits fall off, ruining that neatness.

With extremely posh nonchalance, the recipe instructs one to place one's buns on toasted brioche buns. Hah. I made some olive bread earlier on in the week, so I grilled the bread and put them on there. A perfectly adequate substitute. 

I was utterly, utterly generous with the spicy remoulade; it was beautiful with the burgers and balanced out the density and saltiness of the bread nicely. This was all absolutely bursting with flavour, yet had a great zippiness to it, it was still lovely and light. Definitely one that will be made again and again.

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