These cakes taste something like a Creole risotto, and are a perfect pairing for gumbo, sautéed shrimp, or crawfish. Popcorn rice is available at most supermarkets now, but if you can’t find it, any aromatic rice, such as basmati, will work fine.
In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the celery, green pepper, and onion and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in the rice. Add the fish stock (or chicken stock and water) and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Chop the crawfish and stir in. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Let the rice cool slightly. Whir in a food processor just long enough to chop the mixture, but not so long that it becomes a purée.
Form the mixture into eight cakes by hand and put them on a buttered baking sheet, or pack the rice lightly into small ramekins and unmold onto the sheet. When ready to serve, heat in a 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes and then transfer to plates with a wide metal spatula.
Photo: Judith Hill