Pan-Fried Fideo Crab Bites
I was in a funk - a Foodbuzz Festival Funk, to be precise.
As I write this, the 1st Annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco is coming to a close, the 'Golden Forks' have been handed out to the inaugural award winners and attendees are dragging swag-laden carry-on luggage through SFO airport security. After jealously reading tweets and posts, and enviously perusing Twitpics and Flickr shots of goodie bags, food tastings and marvelous meals, I wish I could've been there, too.
But regret is bitter on the tongue and I would rather taste the sweetness of its opposite - gratitude. So, I thank the bloggers who posted those tweets and photos so that I could share in their excitement. I appreciate that Foodbuzz put together the festival, giving food bloggers yet another venue to connect with each other and celebrate the shared passion for good food. And I am grateful that although I did not make it this year, it is something to eagerly anticipate in the next.
As determined as I was to attend the festival, financing a weekend trip to San Francisco was going to be difficult. Yet hope was kindled when I learned that Foodbuzz and event sponsor Bertolli Sauces were offering 'scholarships' to cover travel expenses for bloggers whose entree and appetizer ideas using the latter's products were chosen. [Congratulations to the winners: Crystal & Amir of The Duo Dishes, Mardi of Eat, Live, Travel, Write and LK of Healthy.Delicious! Click here to see their entries.]
Because of the immediate deadline for entries (just a few days, if memory serves), the Foodbuzz/Bertolli contest required neither a complete recipe nor even a photograph of a finished dish - what was requested, and would be judged, was a concept. I was immediately intrigued because it represented a challenge to muster memory, knowledge and instinct about flavors and techniques to envision a final, feasible food. In my first year of blogging, I have learned so much about cooking instinctively and this was a perfect opportunity to test that education.
I figured my chances were as good as any and came up with an appetizer that I hoped would be a winner. In the end, however, my entry was never submitted. I can offer a whole host of reasons why I didn't do it but I won't; instead, let me just offer the appetizer itself!
This dish was inspired by a creation from Chef Ilan Hall, winner of Bravo's Top Chef, Season Two and now chef-owner of The Gorbals in Los Angeles. From his Crispy Pan-Fried Shrimp and Chorizo Fideo Cakes, I came up with a more simple version using crab meat and Bertolli's Alfredo Sauce with Aged Parmesan Cheese. Furthermore, I made it two ways - pan-fried and oven-baked - to compare the outcomes in terms of taste and texture. Although I didn't put it out there to be evaluated by my fellow bloggers in the Foodbuzz community, this recipe came out quite well and I hope that you'll enjoy it, too.
See you next year at Foodbuzz Fest II!
Fideo Crab Bites
Depending on the source, the Spanish word fideo may refer to any kind of noodle or, specifically, a very thin, short vermicelli-type pasta used in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines. In southern Spain, it takes the place of rice in a paella dish called fideuá, whereas in Mexico, it is commonly used in soups (sopa de fideo) [sources: Wikipedia/Fideo, wisegeek.com]. Most recipes call for the noodles to be toasted first, either in the oven or by lightly frying, to deepen its flavor. I skipped this step here but will be sure to follow it for future preparations. Despite its pasta pedigree, fideo can be found in the Spanish or Mexican section of your local grocery.
Baked Fideo Crab Bites
To cook the recipe, I tried both pan-frying and baking: the former yielded a deep golden color and appealingly crunchy texture, perfect as finger food dipped into a savory sauce, while the latter was softer to the bite with a quiche-like quality more suitable to a plated appetizer. Same mixture, different mouthfeel - in the end, Mr. Noodle declared both to be equal favorites.
Yields approximately 2 dozen
4 oz fideo (capellini or vermicelli noodles, broken into 1" pieces, may be used)
1/4 cup Bertolli Alfredo Sauce with Aged Parmesan Cheese
2 eggs, beaten
8 oz crab meat
2 Tbsps fresh parsley, finely chopped
Oil for frying
1. Cook fideo according to package directions; rinse with cold water, drain well and set aside;
2. Combine alfredo sauce and eggs, and mix well;
3. In a separate bowl, mix cooled noodles, crabmeat and parsley, tossing gently to combine;
4. Add egg-alfredo mixture and toss gently until noodles are well-coated;
5. Cover bowl and refrigerate mixture for 30-45 minutes;
b) Drop heaping tablespoons of chilled noodle mixture into hot oil, making sure not to crowd each spoonful;
c) Fry until golden on both sides, then remove to a plate lined with paper towels; serve immediately.
b) Grease mini-muffin pan with butter, oil or nonstick spray;
c) Spoon noodle mixture, filling each well to the top;
d) Bake for 30 minutes or until tops are golden;
e) Remove from oven and serve immediately.
This recipe is definitely still in progress: aside from toasting the fideo before boiling, other possible changes include using different seafood (salmon?) or adding cheese to the baked version so that the tops aren't quite as dry. Eventually, I'd like to try 'deconstructing' the alfredo sauce portion to make this a truly from-scratch appetizer. All suggestions, tips and advice are welcome!