Back in 1984 I was asked by several of the celebrities that I cooked for if I ever had eaten at Stars Restaurant in San Francisco.
My reply was no but after reading about the chef in charge and his fusion food menu I knew it would not be long before I would be there in the flesh.
Stars were noted as being the birthplace of New American Cuisine.
The restaurant was an instant sensation and quickly became the top-grossing restaurant for years.
Chef Jeremiah Tower and his posse of celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck became the pioneers of California Cuisine.
Today Spago Restaurant carries that forth.
I arrived in San Francisco hungry for new taste sensations and phoned for reservations immediately. I was told that unless I was a VIP it would be weeks.
I went to the restaurant the next day anyway and saw this opulent restaurant with its open kitchen.
I walked in and was immediately made to feel welcome.
It was11am and I was one of the first too arrive lunch patrons.
I was seated in area close to the bar and was handed a menu that when I started to read it sent my senses reeling.
Every menu item listed I wanted to try.
By about the sixth appetizer I was in a nirvana of savory delights.
Scallops in a peach cup with bacon foam, Poached artichokes with a chili garlic aioli,
Ahi Tuna flash grilled with black sesame seeds, grilled calamari stuffed with wasabi spinach goma ae to name a few.
That evening after thinking about all the new tastes sensations I consumed earlier I made mental notes about all the new recipes of my own that I could jazz up.
The next day I returned to Stars and was seated just like before and this time I was going to try the dishes that made the restaurant famous.
I started with the Crab Cakes and after eating one order I told my server to hit me again with the same.
After enjoying the second batch I was convinced that these were the best dam crab cakes I have ever eaten. These crab cakes were light and delicate with Dungeness crab flavour coming through in every bite. The home made tartar sauce was all that was needed to make this dish a triumph.
I met the chef and told him what I had eaten from the menu in the last 48 hours and he was flattered by my descriptions. He said that the new restaurants he was about to open in Manila and Singapore would give a closer connection to the exotic element he would be using in his next entrée creations. I stood in the prep kitchen beside Jeremy and was shown hands on how to makes his crab cakes which he confessed was his moms recipe for using up tidbits of crab that she tediously extracted form the tiny legs.
Let’s start with;
1 lbs fresh shucked crab meat picked over for any shell or cartilage.
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 cups warm mashed potatoes
4 organic egg yolks
1 tsp of Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 tsp sea salt
½ fresh black pepper
1/3 cup clarified butter.
Place the picked over crab in a bowl and add the lemon juice and set aside.
In a large bowl combine the mashed potatoes, egg yolks, mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper.
Now fold in the crab meat.
Using about a ¼ cup blob of the mixture, pat and shape into12 ½ inch patties.
In a heavy duty large skillet heat the 3 tbs of butter over medium high heat. Add the crab cakes without crowding. Fry for approx 3 minutes each side till well browned.
Fry the remaining cakes using more butter if necessary.
When I had them at Stars they were served with a rocket salad of watercress and spinach and home made tartar sauce.