Goan Spiced Crab Cakes

Makes 12 crab cakes, serving 6

For the Tomato Base:

2 ¼ teaspoons cumin seeds
2 ¼ teaspoons coriander seeds
Scant ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
Scant ½ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 ½ cups white onion, diced
1 tablespoon ginger. peeled and minced
1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic
½ cup tomato, diced
Kosher salt

For the Fish Mousse:

3 ounces skinless white fish fillet, such as cod, bass, or Pollack
1 whole egg
1 egg white
2 teaspoons grated lime zest (from about 1 ½ limes)
2 tablespoons clantro, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chives, finely sliced
¼ cup fresh lime juice (from about 1 ½ limes)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound lump crabmeat, gently picked over for shell pieces
2 cups panko
3 tablespoons canola oil 

Finely grind the cumin and coriander seeds in an electric coffee/spice grinder, then blend with the turmeric and cayenne in a small bowl.  Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over moderately high heat until it shimmers.  Add the onion, ginger, and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onion is softened.  Stir in the tomato, spice mixture, and salt to taste.  Cook the mixture over moderately low heat, stirring often, until it releases its liquid and then thickens, about 30 minutes.  Cool the base, uncovered.  The base can be made a day ahead and kept, covered, in the refrigerator.

Puree the fish, egg, and egg white in a food processor until smooth.  Transfer the fish puree to a bowl big enough to later hold the tomato base and crabmeat, then stir in the lime zest, cilantro, and chives.  (You should have about 1 cup fish mousse.)

Stir the tomato base and lime juice into the fish mousse and season generously with salt and pepper.  Fold in the crabmeat.

Spread the panko on a tray.  Form 1 small test patty of the crab mixture and roll it in the panko.  Sauté it in a lightly oiled pan (about 1 minute on each side) and taste.  Correct the seasoning to suit your taste.  Gently form the remaining crab mixture into 12 equal balls and roll them in panko.  Pat the balls into cakes (about 2 ½ inches by ¾ inch), taking care not to squeeze them tightly.

Preheat the oven to 225° F.

Heat 1 ½ tablespoons of the canola oil in a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat until it shimmers.  Add half the crab cakes and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until golden on the bottom.  Turn them over carefully and sauté for about 3 minutes longer, or until golden on the bottom.  Transfer to paper towels or brown paper to drain, then place on a baking sheet with sides.  Keep the crab cakes warm in the middle oven while sautéing the remaining crab cakes the same way.  Serve the crab cakes warm.    

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