The Importance of Being Crabby; A Simple Recipe for Crab Cakes and Few Ways To Enjoy Them.
Over the years, I have made hundreds perhaps thousands of crab cakes. As a former chef and caterer, I have prepared various recipes each one similar and each one tasty. If you ask a small crowd of people to rate their favorite crab cake recipe, you''ll most certainly get a variety of folks with different opinions.
Some people prefer their crab cakes with breading (one can not deny the appeal of Paula Dean's buttery Ritz cracker recipe) while others prefer little to no breading. While a crispy deep fried cake, to some, is the ideal, other's would rather enjoy a lighter crab cake, aka, baked.
Which ever crab cake you enjoy most, there is one elemental ingredient that can not be skimped on - the crabmeat.
If you have ever eaten a mediocre crab cake, you know what I'm talking about. It is important to buy the best crabmeat that you can get. Without the freshest crabmeat, your crab cakes will be inferior.
This recipe, which I've changed slightly from Dean & DeLuca, highlights the crabmeat. There are few ingredients and no breading. If you love the flavor of crabmeat, this is a recipe you'll want to try.
One of the reasons that I prefer this particular recipe is because it is a basic mixture and I can add other ingredients easily if I should decide to. Simply adding minced chives, sliced scallions, capers or minced tomato, does not alter the outcome. If the crab mix is slightly more moist than I'd like, I can mix in a spoonful of panko crumbs and, again, the outcome remains pretty much the same.
Prep and Cook Time
- 2 pounds lump crabmeat
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 Tablespoons whole-grain mustard
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- olive oil to drizzle
- panko crumbs if needed
- salt and pepper to taste
Preparing the Crab Cakes:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
- Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, and egg in a mixing bowl.
- Gently fold in crabmeat using a rubber spatula or your hand. *I prefer using my hand because then I can really tell the consistency of the mixture and whether I should add a small amount of panko crumbs or not.
- Form mixture into cakes and transfer to baking sheet. *My crab cakes were about 2 1/2 inches and 1 inch thick.
- Bake crab cakes for 15 or until lightly golden in color.
- Remove cakes and lightly drizzle olive oil on the top of each one. Return to the broiler and broil for 2-3 minutes until they are lightly browned.
- Remove from broiler and let stand on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Serve as you wish.
Contrary to my earlier statement, I purchased the only crabmeat available to me at the market to make these crab cakes.
Notice that the crabmeat is a slightly reddish-brown color. Fresh crabmeat typically has a brighter, whiter color. Of course, many markets sell frozen or canned crabmeat because it is easier to keep stocked. However, when you can buy crabmeat from your fishmonger, I highly recommend that you do so.
Crabmeat can have cartilage in it that is sometimes over looked before packaging. I suggest that you look through your crabmeat before putting it into your bowl with the mayonnaise mixture.
I like to mix the crab cakes with my hands for to reasons.
1) By working the mixture with my hands, I can feel if I have missed any cartiledge.
2) By using my hands, I can better tell if my mixture is too loose and requires some crumbs to bind my cakes together.
Crumbs might be necessary in this recipe because the main ingredient is crabmeat. In order to form the cakes, the mixture will need to be strong enough to hold it's shape.
I like panko crumbs for their extra crispy texture. You can certainly use any bread crumb, although I would suggest only using crumbs made from white bread and are not overtly seasoned. I want the taste of the crab to take center stage.
By using both mayonnaise and sour cream in this recipe, the crab cakes stay quite moist. If you form your crab cakes smaller than an inch thick, you may risk having them dry out more than they need to. Also, the thickness makes for a lovely presentation on the plate. If you are using the crab cakes as a main course, you may consider forming the cakes using a stainless form. Making cakes using such a ring is easy and you can make them directly on your baking sheet.
Stainless Steel Round Form
3 x 3 x 1.8 inche ring
I confess, I do love the crispy texture of a deep fried crab cake, but that is the appeal of this recipe - believe it or not.
By drizzling a little olive oil on top each cake and broiling, a crispy crust is formed. A side benefit - I don't have to make an even bigger mess of my kitchen by using my deep fryer.
As a main course, we enjoyed these crab cakes on a salad with a caper dressing, however, the truth be told, I really wanted to make them to serve atop a corn soup I recently made.
There are so many ways to serve crab cakes. I think that many people choose to only enjoy them when they dine out, but they are quite simple to make and although the crabmeat can be pricey, it's no more expensive than a good cut of beef.
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Perfect for Sunday brunch.
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