When you think of the best crab cake you've ever had, the crab should be the first thing that comes to mind. This basic recipe for crab cakes makes the most of sweet crab meat while being easy enough for the novice cook.
I don't know about you, but the sight of green and red flecks in crab cakes makes me cringe. If I'm splurging on this particular delicacy, I want an unadulterated taste of crab, so leave the fillers out! The only exception to this is if you have a treasured family version that has been handed down for generations; I'm not looking to start a fight with anyone's grandma.
Okay, back to our version of the basic crab cake. First, start with the best crab meat you can find/afford. Jumbo lump will be the most expensive, but the large pieces of crab meat might be too big if you're making smaller crab cakes. Next will be lump crab meat (my personal choice), then backfin crab meat, and last, brown claw meat. There's absolutely nothing wrong with using the cheaper meat from the body or the claw, but be careful to look for pieces of cartilage or shell.
Crab cakes should have two main components: crab meat and a binder. Don't confuse the binder with a filler; it's a simple mixture that will keep your whole concoction together. For this recipe, you'll need buttery crackers that will simply melt into the final product and get the job done.
Decadent Crab Cakes (serves 2)
1 large egg
2 heaping T. mayonnaise
10 buttery crackers (like Ritz)
8 ounces of crab meat (I used lump)
Dash of garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T. salted butter
Whisk together the egg and mayonnaise. Crumble the crackers into the mixture and make sure to get a relatively fine crumb. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Look over your crab meat for traces of shell or cartilage, being careful not to break up larger pieces. GENTLY fold the crab meat into the egg mixture. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Form four medium-sized crab cakes. Bake on nonstick foil or a greased cookie sheet in a preheated oven set at 400 degrees for 7 minutes; this is to cook them all the way through. Over medium-high heat on the stove, melt the butter in a frying pan and brown the crab cakes for two and a half minutes on each side.
Serve on their own with a bit of salad, alongside a steak for surf and turf, or on a roll for an unforgettable crab cake sandwich. Because you didn't use much seasoning, you'll want to have a great sauce to serve on the side. I prefer a spiced mayonnaise or garlic aioli if you can find it.
3 T. mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
Mix all ingredients together and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
If you REALLY miss your MeMaw's red pepper and scallions in the crab cakes, consider adding a bit of both to the sauce. That way, purists can skip it if they want to, but you'll still have it for those who like the flavor.
**The photos in this article are by Sarina Petrocelly.
Do you have a favorite crab cake recipe or special seafood sauce? Tell us about it in the comments!