I’ve always been in love with crab cakes, but had never really learned how to make them. So, several years ago, my wife and I decided to take an Elderhostel trip east to Maryland, which I’ve always considered to be more less the font of the crab cake art. There, under the instruction and watchful eye of a man we knew only as Chef Carson, I tried to absorb the basics of the craft. What follows is my amalgam of what he had to teach, and my own riff on what I learned.
Start with one of those pound cans of lump crab meat you can get at Costco, Trader Joe’s, and elsewhere. If you live on the west coast, it may be tempting to use fresh Dungeness crab meat, but, while Dungeness is best for eating straight up, it’s not so successful in crab cakes. Anyway …
Take a small bowl and whisk together until thoroughly blended:
¾ cup of mayo, 2 Tbs. regular French’s mustard, 1 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce,
l extra-large egg, and several dashes of your favorite hot sauce … just for a little zing. Set the bowl of blended ingredients aside.
Take a larger bowl, and, with a fork, gently mix thoroughly a pound of lump crab meat, 1.5 Tbs. Old Bay Seasoning (usually to be found in any supermarket spice aisle), 2 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley, and some Panko crumbs. For this last ingredient, just wash and dry the empty crab can and fill it ¾ full with the Panko. That amount will prove to be just right in the mixture.
Now, add to the larger bowl the contents of the smaller bowl, and, using your hands or a fork, gently but thoroughly combine the wet and dry ingredients. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before you’re ready to make the crab cakes.
Remove the bowl from the fridge and mold the crab cake mixture just as you would if you were making regular hamburgers … the size is up to you. Take a large, deep skillet, pour into it about ¾ inch of vegetable oil, and heat the oil to 350° Put the crab cakes into the hot oil and fry them for a minute or two on each side. Remove them, when well-browned on both sides, to a foil-lined baking/cookie sheet. They can stay comfortably on the sheet until you’re ready for the final step before serving. About 15 minutes before you want to serve them, put the baking sheet in a preheated 375° oven. 15 minutes later, they’ll be ready to eat with any kind of sauce you like with crab. Sometimes I like to make the cakes smaller so that I can use them for sliders, adorned with a homemade tartar sauce. If you have any leftovers, put them in the fridge, and, the next day, heat them on high for maybe 45 seconds or so in a microwave. Try this:
Top each of the reheated cakes with a poached egg and some chopped chives … sort of cries out for a Hollandaise topping or just a sauce made of mayo and Dijon mustard. Surround with some tomatoes if you like … yummy all the way!
Or, go for crab cake sliders!