Crabby Crab Cakes

It’s that time of year, when it starts to get dark all of a sudden, it’s a wee bit chilly in the mornings, and you debate wearing tights to work.  For me the start of fall not only represents a change in seasons, but a complete shift in what I want to eat and drink.  Long gone are the days of salads and Pimm’s on the patio.  Now it’s time for soups and stews…and bring on the cab sav!

But tonight, it was quite warm when I got home, and the sun was still shinning so I decided to make one last summer meal.  Crab cakes are always a favourite, but for some reason I haven’t made them in ages.  I used to do them with canned crab, but it just wasn’t doing it for me, so I picked up some lump crab meat at Costco that was sort of vacuum packed. The quality was surprisingly good and for the price I got a lot of mileage out of it.  Obviously if you can get fresh crab that’s the way to go, but for most of us that’s hard to come by.

I’ve experimented with all sorts of recipes for crab cakes over the years and I never seem to be 100% happy with them.  So now I just make them, with whatever I have, that sounds good, just the way I like.  And they always turn out great!  So try your own, or use my guidelines. Note that measurements are by no means precise.  In my opinion the key to great crab cakes is fresh herbs, lemon, and when you make your cakes, you have to first form them almost like a meatball, and then flatten them out so they stay together once you fry them. Oh, and instead of breadcrumbs which get soggy and tend to taste like cardboard, use panko, a Japanese breadcrumb product you can get almost anywhere nowadays.

Crab Cakes My Way:

  • 1/2 lb. lump crab meat
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 C mayonaise
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 C panko
  • Fresh herbs (I like dill or for some Asian flavour try green onions), as much as you like, roughly chopped
  • Seasoning salt (I use a spice blend from friends that unfortunately isn’t sold in stores, but Old Bay works just fine) and pepper to taste

Use your hands to mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Then once you’re happy with the consistency (more panko may be required), decide what size cake you want.  I usually opt for a small to medium sized cake that’s nice and thin.  I find they cook better without burning.  But if you’re feeling ballsy, go for one of those big thick restaurant style cakes and see how you fare.  You can also do mini’s that are fun for parties!

I pan fry my crab cakes with a little grape seed oil because it has a higher smoking point and is less likely to burn.  Cook them until they’re nicely browned on both sides, then pop them in a 350 degree oven to keep them warm while the others cook up.  When you’re all done, serve them with some lemon, caper, basil mayo, or if you want something with a bit of kick try a Thai red curry mayo.  Making fancy mayo isn’t hard, you basically just add the ingredients I’ve listed above to Hellmann’s!  People are always so impressed when I pull out fancy mayo dips and sauces, but they are so easy!

So enjoy the last of the summer sun; here in the northwest we’ve got a long winter ahead.

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