Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Spicy Thai crab cakes

Last night, I came the closest to crying that I have in months. I'm not much of a crier these days - what's to cry about, really? - so I was quite surprised when I felt those little pinpricks behind my eyes.

It was about 6.30pm and was sitting on the stairs just down from the the floor of our house that we share with Kitty. My husband was trying to get Kitty in the bath and she was having a little tantrum. "Neaoooo!!! Neeaaoooo!! WanttogetOUT wanttogetDOWN!" She was red-faced, weeping, voice hesitant and hiccuping from trying to talk while crying. She was exhausted and I felt sorry for her - since dropping her big lunchtime nap and replacing it with ad hoc little morning catnaps, Kitty's mood come bathtime is unpredictable. She can either have slept too much or too little or too late during the day, meaning she is either full of beans and impossible to bathe, or overtired - and impossible to bathe. 

It's such a boring story. Scratch the surface of any household with children and they'll have some similar problem. Anyway, I say impossible to bathe, what I mean is that sometimes we all enjoy bathtime and sometimes we do not. She is still always in bed by about 7.15pm - when she actually goes to sleep is up to her and not my problem. 

But last night it was hard to be sanguine. Just as I thought that life was tedious enough, fate decided to hand my ass to me by giving me one of those gluey headcolds that means you can't hear, or think, or see for about a week. The day had been long and tedious, with Kitty watching far too much telly and being left to run riot all over the house, dropping food and spilling drinks, while I quietly despaired. 

And although it's not forever - soon it will be Spring! Soon I won't be pregnant! - days like that - when I lose my grip completely and Kitty eats junk and watches TV all day - leave me depressed as hell. On top of my general gestational insomnia, I've now also got to deal with my cold keeping me up at night, so the days are sharp-edged, bad and bleak enough, without feeling sad that I have totally neglected my child. It's not her fault I'm ill, or that I'm pregnant. She is 2 and the law of cliches has decided that she is going to be a little jerk for an indeterminate number of coming months (years?) She is just doing what toddlers do. Like cats catch mice. 

I considered all this and did what any sensible woman would do and nearly cried for a few seconds. Then I got up and went downstairs to make some spicy Thai crabcakes. 

I don't use tinned stuff much, reasoning that it's better to get things fresh, but making fish cakes or crab cakes from tinned produce is a thing that I hear it's okay to do. I got the idea for these crabcakes from a recipe book but I have altered the recipe so much here that I don't think I'll bother crediting the cook.

These must be shallow-fried, so they are not really suitable for entertaining, as I always think frying things in company doesn't work - it makes a smell and creates an unmellow atmosphere - plus you have to be at the stove, tending and poking your batches, rather than gossiping and pouring drinks. These are better done as a treat dinner for you and someone else. Or just you. If you are feeling very organised you can make them in the morning, leave them in the fridge and then fry off in time for dinner.

They were very nice, I think. My sense of smell and taste has done a bunk. My husband said they were delicious, but he may have just been heading off another tantrum. 

Thai crab cakes
Makes about eight

2 tins crab meat -- I used John West, from Waitrose
1 small bunch coriander
1 red chilli, sloppily de-seeded
2 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 tsp fish sauce, if you have it
1 large pinch salt
1 stick lemongrass, cut into three (if you have it)
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and chopped into 3
1 small clove garlic - if you LIKE, I didn't
two large handfuls medium matzoh meal (or the equivalent breadcrumbs)
1 egg

1 Drain the crab meat in a sieve and break up with your fingertips

2 Put everything else except the matzoh and the egg in a whizzer and whizz

3 Combine everything in a bowl, stirring in the egg and the matzoh

4 Shape the mixture into flat patties, about 4-5cm across

5 Fry off in a shallow pool of ground nut oil until golden brown

We ate these wrapped in lettuce leaves and dipped in Encona sweet chilli sauce. My husband said "Just cry, let it all out." And I said "No. No way." Then we watched Friday Night Lights and both blubbed a little bit - because sometimes real life just doesn't deserve your tears. 

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