The newest kid on the restaurant block with a lot of much-older kids, Aerlume recently opened adjacent to Pike Place Market on the hillside above Elliott Bay. The sprawling and generously view-appointed restaurant comes from Fire and Vine, a partnership between Chef Jason Wilson (Miller’s Guild, Lakehouse) and El Gaucho Hospitality (El Gaucho, Aqua by El Gaucho).
“We want to create a sense of connection with the ingredients grown in this region and the people who come in to enjoy delicious cooking and the beautiful views of Puget Sound,” Wilson says of his latest operation. “In the kitchen we employ a craft cooking approach, a great farm relationship in Fall City [Washington] and all the bounty of the season.”
Though Dungeness crab season usually kicks off in slightly warmer weather, Wilson’s connects bring this unctuous, flavorsome delicacy to the table now — and he shares all the details to his go-to recipe here.
“Crab cakes are comfy and familiar, yet special in a celebratory or indulgent way,” he adds. “They are great warm on a chilly night, and we have lots of these this time of year.”
In pairing with this recipe, Wilson keeps it local and reaches for a favorite bottle from the list: Ross Andrew Winery‘s Pinot Gris. “This wine is crisp and balanced but still brings about enough fruit to work really well with crab,” the chef notes. “I like serving a simple-dressed salad of finely julienned green apples, asian pears, mint and arugula. It’s easy and goes great with the wine and rich Dungeness crab.”
Try the cakes with a side of Puget Sound views in the restaurant or give it a go yourself in the kitchen with this straightforward instructional from one of Seattle’s best.
Aerlume Dungeness Crab Cakes
2 pounds Dungeness crab meat
2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
2 tablespoons finely diced leek
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon minced chives
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped basil
Rice flour, for breading
Ground panko bread crumbs, for breading
Drain and ring dry the crab meat, do not shred it. Place the meat in a large mixing bowl. In a stainless steel sauce pot, simmer the shallots and leeks, then add the cream until it is at least 2/3 reduced. Add the lemon zest and stir well. Pour the warm mixture into crab meat and add all chopped herbs. Mix well by hand.
Using a scoop, measure out the desired amount, roughly 2 ounces, and roll into a ball. On a plate, pour in the rice flour. Do the same for the panko and crack the egg into a bowl, mixing for an egg wash. Roll the balls first in the rice flour, then in the egg, and return to flour and egg again, finishing with the ground panko.
Place the breaded ball into an appropriate sized ring mold and lightly depress inside ring mold to make a cake. Deep fry for 40-50 seconds or pan fry in olive oil and finish quickly in the oven, set to 375° F, for about four minutes..
Photo courtesy Fire & Vine Hospitality.