Citrus and crab

Grapefruit gets its sea legs

Crab cakes

Panko-Crusted Crab Cake Bites with Roasted Pepper-Chive Aioli

James Carrier

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The wild flavor pairings high-profile chefs once used to attract attention are losing steam as the popular palate warms to retro dishes like braised lamb shanks, beef Stroganoff, and chicken Kiev. But those taste-expanding days deserve more praise than scorn, I think, because new pleasures surfaced. One deserving survivor is grapefruit with fish. Citrus and seafood are hardly strangers; lemon is indigenous in their long-standing partnership. But grapefruit requires a leap of faith, and serious concentration ― of the juice, that is. If you boil down grapefruit juice and concentrate its sweetness, taking the edge off its natural bitterness, the result is bright and refreshing.

Chef Katsuo "Naga" Nagasawa, of Cafe del Rey in Marina del Rey, California, surrounds his marvelous crab cakes (with so much sweet crab and so little else, they barely hang together) with a zesty grapefruit sauce, beurre blanc-style: with butter stirred in. For another exhilarating voyage, serve the sauce with grilled salmon (be sure to include the final swirl of butter).

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