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By Request

By Betty Shimabukuro

Wednesday, July 5, 2000

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
At Taste of Honolulu, servings of Alaskan King Crab
Cakes Thai Style, front, and Kataifi-Crusted Black
Tiger prawns await tasters.

Taste hits to
make at home

IT'S the pork hidden in the crab cake that makes it Thai. It's the Alaskan king crab, cracked straight out of the shell, that makes it sing.

Of all the many, many, many foods served at Taste of Honolulu two weekends ago, Edmond Lee picked out two favorites, both served at the Chai's Island Bistro/Singha Thai Cuisine booth. He and his wife, Lee said, were "absolutely blown away" by the crab cakes and the fried tiger prawns. "I am quite sure I am not the only one who will be writing to you regarding their incredible entrees."

The dishes were definitely hot sellers.

Chef Chai Chaowasaree, owner of both Chai's and Singha Thai, served up 12,000 shrimp and 6,000 crab cakes over the three days of Taste -- collecting a record 72,000 scrip and earning $18,000 for Easter Seals Hawaii, the event's beneficiary.

Producing at that rate meant his staff was at work in the middle of the night, preparing the prawns for the next day's frying.

Still, both dishes are easy enough to do at home, Chaowasaree said, as long as you take the trouble to round up the right ingredients.

For the crab cake, that means Alaskan king crab. "If you use dungeness crab, it doesn't taste the same." His restaurants order 10 cases of crab legs at a time.

For the prawns, that means searching out kataifi, or shredded filo dough (Strawberry Connection sells it in a 1-pound frozen package for $5.50). Kataifi wrapped around the tempura-dipped prawns gives them that unique birds-nest look -- plus it's light, crisp and fries up golden brown in the same amount of time that it takes the prawns to cook.

Also critical, as with all deep frying, is the temperature of the oil. Chaowasaree says the prawns should cook in about 2 minutes when the oil is heated to 350 to 375 degrees. Too hot and the kataifi will burn, too cool and lots of oil will soak into the prawn by the time it is cooked.

The prawns, by the way, are not particularly Thai, the chef said, but the crab cakes follow a traditional approach in the addition of pork to the mix.

"That's how we do it in Thailand. The pork hash gives it a subtle taste."

At the restaurants, the crab cake is served as an appetizer with a roasted garlic aioli. The prawns are skewered into a slice of pineapple and served on a bed of greens. You can simplify your own presentation, but do include the final flourish: a pineapple vinaigrette with the crab cakes and a mango salsa with the prawns.


10 ounces Alaskan king crab

3 ounces ground pork

1 tablespoon EACH chopped celery, chopped bell peppers (mixed colors), chopped green onion and fresh corn

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 egg

Ground pepper to taste

2 cups vegetable oil for frying

2 cups baby greens or mesclun greens

Bullet Coating:
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 egg
1/2 cup water
1 cup bread crumbs

Bullet Fresh Island Salsa:
1 tablespoon EACH diced ripe mango and diced tomato (1/4 inch in size)
1 teaspoon EACH chopped onion and chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon EACH lemon juice and balsamic vinegar
Salt and hot pepper sauce to taste

Combine crab, pork, vegetables, mayonnaise, egg and pepper. Divide into 4 patties.

To make coating: Combine flour, cornstarch, egg and water to make a batter.

Coat crab cake in batter, then dip in breadcrumbs.

Heat oil to 375 degrees and fry crab cakes to a golden brown. Set aside.

To make salsa: Combine all ingredients.

Serve crab cakes on a bed of greens with salsa. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving (not including salt and hot sauce to taste): 455 calories, 25 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 160 mg cholesterol, greater than 750 mg sodium.*


8 jumbo black tiger prawns, peeled
1/4 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch salt and pepper, or to taste
1 1-pound box kataifi (shredded filo dough)
4 cups vegetable oil for frying

Bullet Batter:
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg
1/4 cup cold water

Bullet Pineapple Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Pinch salt
Dash red pepper sauce

Marinate prawns in lemon juice and salt and pepper. Run a bamboo skewer through each prawn lengthwise. Set aside.

To make batter: Combine ingredients. Dip each prawn in the batter, then wrap each prawn securely in kataifi.

Heat oil to 375 degree in a deep fryer or a wok, then fry prawns until the kataifi is a light brown color.

To make vinaigrette: Combine ingredients; bring to a boil and simmer a few minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Serve prawns with a mixed salad, garnished with fresh pineapple and vinaigrette. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving (not including salad and fresh pineapple): 700 calories, 36 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 150 mg cholesterol, greater than 800 mg sodium.*

Food Stuffs: Morsels

Send queries along with name and phone number to:
By Request, Honolulu Star-Bulletin Food Section,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Or send e-mail to

Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by
Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.

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