With Christmas and New Year’s Eve on the horizon, I’ve started thinking about what our celebrations look like this year. Or, maybe I should say, how our celebrations will taste! We are spending the holidays in Florida this year and are lucky to have lots of fresh seafood available to us.
While I love taking advantage of fresh, local ingredients, you don’t need to be in Florida or on the coast to make and enjoy this recipe! I’ll be using local lump crab this year, but I’ve often made these crab cakes using Phillips fresh lump crab sold in the refrigerated seafood section around the country. In fact, if you’ve planned your provisions ahead of time, you can make this dish anywhere your Entegra coach takes you!
Crab cakes are easy to make and far less messy than eating crab legs! No matter how often I eat them, it tastes like a special occasion. This recipe makes a great salad or starter course for 6-8 people or a fantastic entrée for 3 (or two with leftovers for a delicious brunch ????).
Tips for Making the Perfect Crab Cakes
When you add your eggs to the wet ingredients, take the time to beat them a little bit. Beating the eggs will add volume to your wet ingredients, aiding in coating the crab sufficiently.
Avoid pulling the lumps of crab meat apart! I’ve found high-quality fresh crab meat is well picked over when shelled. The less you mess with it, the better the texture of these crab cakes. Be careful when folding in the crab and the breadcrumbs to prevent breaking up the crab!
Panko bread crumbs are lighter and less dense than other breadcrumbs and will yield more delicate crab cakes.
Equipment Needed: medium-sized bowl for mixing crab cakes, large bowl for mixing salad, knife, cutting board, sheet pan, waxed paper, 10-inch non-stick skillet, spatula for mixing, spatula for cooking, splatter guard (optional)
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer or 2-3 for dinner
For the crab cakes
1/3 cup Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
Salt & Pepper
Splash of Tabasco Hot Sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Parsley, fresh, chopped
½ cup Red Bell Pepper, chopped fine
½ cup Shallot, minced
2 large Eggs, beaten
1 pound Lump Crab Meat
¾ cup + additional Panko Breadcrumbs
Vegetable Oil for Frying
Mix all the ingredients except crab, breadcrumbs and oil in a bowl. Add the crab and gently mix until the crab is coated in the egg mixture. Add ¾ cup of breadcrumbs and carefully fold them in to avoid breaking up the crabmeat. Portion into six or eight equal cakes, topping each with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs. Place on a sheet pan lined with waxed paper. Refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 1 day before cooking.
Cook crab cakes in two to three batches. To cook, heat about ½ cup vegetable oil in a skillet on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the crab cakes. Cook until brown (about 2 minutes) before gently flipping. Cook for an additional two minutes before removing from the pan. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
For the salad/dressing:
Arugula, spinach or other fresh greens
2 oranges, peeled and segmented without the pith, reserving any juices
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
Salt and Pepper
¼ cup Champagne Vinegar
½ cup Olive Oil
Add garlic, mustard, salt and pepper to the bottom of a large bowl. Using the back of a fork, mash the garlic, mixing in the mustard and salt until a paste has formed. Add the juice from the oranges and the vinegar, and slowly whisk in the olive oil. Whisk until thoroughly combined and emulsified. Add the greens to the bowl and toss well.
To serve, divide the salad greens on the plate and top with segmented oranges. Add crab cakes and drizzle any leftover dressing from the salad bowl on the crab cakes.
I suggest a medium to full-bodied white wine with a bit of fruit sweetness—chardonnay with a kiss of oak from anywhere in the world should work well with the dish. I especially love the generosity of fruit and the hint of orange blossom you’ll find in Chardonnay grown in the Maconnais – think Macon Fuisse, Pouilly Fuisse, etc., with crab.
If you want something different, try a white wine made using France’s Rhone varietals like Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc, like Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc or Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc. You’ll find these wines will have a richness to match the richness of the crab without overpowering its delicacy.
What to do with leftover crab cakes?
Six crab cakes are too many for us for just one meal. But that doesn’t keep me from cooking this recipe for the two of us! If we are hungry, I’ll add a serving of wild rice pilaf to go with two crab cakes and the salad. I’ll serve the leftover crab cakes for breakfast the next day on a toasted English muffin half topped with a poached egg because the only thing more decadent than crab cakes for dinner are crab cakes for breakfast!