01 July, 2008

The Best Crab Cake Recipe Ever

I love crab cakes. They're pretty easy to prepare, make a great "impress-your-friends" appetizer for a dinner, or you can serve them as a main course for a light summer supper with a salad, corn on the cob, and chips. The secret to great crab cakes is excellent quality meat, a minimum of filler, and a light hand with seasonings that enhance rather than mask the wonderful flavor of the crab.

Any type of crab is good in a crab cake, but most of the native crabs here are on the small side and would take forever to pick. So, I start with a pair of good-sized Dungeness crabs. They're cooked on the boat and frozen for shipping to me here on the East Coast. Put them in a steamer for five or ten minutes and they'll be thawed and ready to use. Dungeness crabs also have a very good meat-to-weight yield. You'll need about a pound or so of crabmeat, so plan on buying two crabs, about 2 pounds each (heavier is okay - the ones in the picture were just over two pounds each.)

Pick the crab well; try not to break up the big meaty pieces that will come out of the legs and claws. Save any body fat and tomalley in a separate small container. You can use that later to make a delicious spread for bread and crackers, or blend it with cream cheese to make an awesome crab dip for chips.

When you're done picking the body and legs of the crabs, you'll have just over a pound of meat. Set it aside while you prep the other ingredients.

In addition to the crabmeat, you will need:

1 egg
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon of celery salt
1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning
Paprika to taste
2 slices of fresh soft bread, grated into soft, bulky crumbs
A small amount of dried panko breadcrumbs

In a large bowl, combine the egg, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, Old Bay, and paprika. Whisk it until smooth.

Add the picked crabmeat to the egg mixture in the bowl and lightly fold the meat into the liquid until all the crabmeat is coated.

Next, add the soft fluffy breadcrumbs you made by grating the fresh bread. As you did before, lightly fold the crabmeat and breadcrumbs together until the crumbs are incorporated into the mixture. The mixture will look rather dry, but that's okay - you only want a small amount of binder to hold the crab cakes together. Remember - crabmeat should be the main ingredient in a crabcake, not breadcrumbs.

Prepare a tray large enough to hold all your crabcakes by sprinkling it with the dried panko breadcrumbs. The panko will help make the crabcakes crispy later, when they are fried.

You can form your crabcakes by hand, but it's easier if you use a biscuit cutter as a form (and they will come out more uniform, too.) For a main course, use a large or medium cutter. If you're making appetizers, you may want to use the smallest size cutter to produce bite-sized crab cakes.

Pack the biscuit cutter with crabmeat. Be gentle so larger pieces remain intact. Press the crabmeat firmly but carefully into the form, using some pressure so the patty will stay together.

Lift the cutter to the platter with the panko, and carefully unmold the crab cake onto the platter. Repeat until all the crabmeat mixture is formed into patties. With a medium-sized biscuit cutter as a form, you should get about eight or nine crab cakes (exact number will vary depending on the size of the crabs and how much meat you've gotten out of them, of course.)

Sprinkle the tops of the patties lightly with a little more panko and place the tray in the refrigerator for about an hour to chill thoroughly.

Refrigerating the crab cakes before cooking them is important. It allows the egg-and-crumb binder to "set" so the crab cakes don't fall apart when they are cooking. Don't omit this step!

Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a heavy skillet until foamy, then carefully transfer the crab cakes to the hot skillet. Fry over medium heat three or four minutes, until browned, then turn over and brown the other side as well.

Delicious crab cakes are delicious.



BigCally said...

You are right...those look amazing! I never thought of putting wist. sauce in there. I will definitely have to try this recipe out. Thanks for the share!!

Anonymous said...

omg, you just made me hungry for crab cakes!

Great idea using the biscuit cutter for a mold. I'll have to try that next time.

Anonymous said...

These crab cakes were awesome! Having family from Virginia we know what real crab cakes taste like and these were wonderful. Living in Louisiana we would have preferred a little more kick to them but not so much as to take away from the crab. The panko bread crumbs were the key to these crispy tasty cake! Thanks for the recipe.

Tiller said...

My mom used to make the BEST crab cakes hands down anyone has ever had.. we lived right at the Chesapeake bay since I could remember so we knew good seafood... I used this recipe in hopes to find something close to what my mom made... JUST like them!... best crab cakes I've had since my mom passed away! Thanks dude!

Crysalismum said...

These will be my first attempt at crabcakes - they look so nice.
You have some really nice recipes