It’s good to be back. As Kaleigh mentioned, things in the PicklePerson household have been hectic lately. Actually, we’d like to get back to hectic. We’re always looking forward to our next vacation, so in reminiscence of, and yearning for, our wonderful, relaxing, yearly vacation in Ocean City, MD, we decided to use our Blizzard Day to make Crab Cakes. Crab Cakes appear to be a uniquely American dish. “The Crab Cake Guy” points out that New Englanders had probably been enjoying some sort of crab mixed with bread filler recipe since the early 19th Century, but acknowledges that the first use of the term “Crab Cake” appeared in 1930, in the form of a New York Times recipe for “Baltimore Crab Cakes”.
Our Crab Cakes take on a little bit of a Cajun or Creole Feel, especially since we chose to plate them with Remoulade, a traditionally French/Cajun/Creole version of Tartar Sauce, but with more character. We also chose to use claw meat instead of the more traditional “Lump Crab”. The first advantage to using claw meat is cost. Just look at the Jumbo Lump Crab in your local store. Your first reaction will be to start looking around for another can, with another price. The second is taste. The claw meat has a deeper, even sweeter and more authentically crab flavor. Lump crab is amazing, but I really enjoy claw meat when I can get it.
The crab meat is one key to quality Crab Cakes. The next is including as much crab as possible. Too much filler equals a bland and boring Crab Cake. The third is to work the crab meat as little as you can so that it won’t break apart. The textural sensation of biting into an enormous lump of crab meat, whether it’s claw or back, is an amazing experience, and you should do your best to preserve it.
So the first step is to build your glue, or binding agent. We made our own mayonnaise, but commercial works. We used panko bread crumbs, but most recipes use crackers. Just put them in a Ziploc bag and beat them until they look like bread crumbs. You should also mix your spices directly into the binding agent so that they are thoroughly combined. Add the crab meat last and mix by hand. I recommend letting the mixture sit in the fridge for about 60 minutes after mixing, especially if you are using homemade mayo. This will allow the lowest possible binder to crab meat ratio. The last step, after you partition the mix into uniform ball/saucer shaped cakes, is to lightly coat the outside in bread crumbs.
- 1 c Mayonnaise
- 1 t Sriracha or other hot sauce
- 2 t Dijon Mustard
- ½ t Hungarian Hot Paprika
- ½ t Celery Seed
- ½ t Cayenne Pepper
- ½ t Lemon Juice
- ¼ t Horseradish
- ¼ t Salt
- ¼ t Capers, muddled
- Chopped Fresh Parsley
- Black Pepper
- Dash Worcestershire
- Dash Champagne Vinegar
- Fresh Dill (optional - omitted for this recipe)
- Combine all ingredients very well.
- Cover, refrigerate, let sit for one hour.
This recipe is heavy on the mustard. That is because we're using claw meat. Cut the mustard in half to accompany back meat (e.g., Jumbo Lump).
The options for cooking crab cakes are endless. They can be baked, broiled, deep fried, shallow fried, etc. We chose to pan fry them. As always, I’m using a cast iron skillet, preheated over medium-low heat for five minutes. Add 1/4 inch of light vegetable oil, usually canola or corn. Be careful not to let the oil get too hot. A good trick is to drop a couple bread crumbs in the oil. If the crumbs start to fry without burning, the oil is ready. Gently lower the crab cakes into the oil, being sure to leave enough room around each cake to flip it later. Ours took about 3 minutes per side.
- 1 lb Crab Meat
- ½ c Mayonnaise
- ¾ c Panko Bread Crumbs, plus more for coating
- 1 Stalk Celery
- ½ Bell Pepper
- 1 t Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 t Hot Sauce
- 2 T Dijon Mustard
- 1 Large Egg
- Juice of ¼ Lemon, plus slices for plating
- 1 t Old Bay or similar Seasoning (We made our own)
- Chopped Parsley
- Salt and Pepper
- Combine wet ingredients, beating egg thoroughly.
- Continue beating while adding herbs and spices.
- Mix in Bread Crumbs and combine thoroughly.
- Add Crab Meat and mix gently, by hand until combined.
- Let cool in refrigerator, covered, for 10-20 minutes.
- Preheat Skillet with ¼ inch of cooking oil, over medium-low heat.
- Form into 2.5 oz balls, flatten slightly.
- Coat gently with Bread Crumbs.
- When oil has reached desired temperature, around 300 degrees, place cakes gently in oil.
- Cook for about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown, flipping once.
- Serve with Remoulade and Lemon Slices.
Serve with a lemon wedge and the wonderful Remoulade you made earlier. Pair with a beer. If you must, a coastal white, such as Vermentino. But this should really be a beer slugging affair. Six Point Crisp is a great choice with crab or, if your spice profile can stand up to it, an Arrogant Bastard from the inimitable Stone.