Crab Cakes with Old Bay Seasoning

It’s crab season! Yea! Dungeness crab season opened in the Pacific Northwest a few weeks ago.  A bit later than usual, but that just means the crabs are bigger, which is a good thing. A very good thing.

If you stop by here often, you know I hail from the Pacific Northwest, and am no stranger to seafood … of any kind. Not to say everyone in the PNW eats seafood, but most do. I was lucky enough to have a number of fishermen (and women) in my life and remember going out on the bay, or the mouth of the Pacific, early in the morning to toss crab pots in and wait (albeit not very patiently) until the afternoon when we’d return, retrieve the pots and bring them to shore our daily feast of Dungeness crab. I remember it like it was yesterday … as I do fishing for salmon and lingcod … heck, I even remember walking the beaches catching clams before they could disappear into the depth of the muckiness. Needless to say, it was a good life—and still is for many.

Of course now I live in the Midwest and rely on friends back home to send me portions of their catch as well as the local fishmongers who never cease to surprise me with their knowledge of the sea, and their dedication to providing customers with delicious, fresh, sustainable seafood. I mean who knew you could find amazing seafood in a landlocked state?!

Let’s cook some crab

What’s the best canned crab for crab cakes?
There’s lump, claw, backfin, blue … white, jumbo … all kinds of terminology to describe different types of crab meat. But without getting into a crab 101 course (which, I will do in a few weeks) just know this, you get what you pay for. I love Dungeness but for nearly $35 for 4 ounces (if not more), it’s a little on the spendy side for mixing—so I wouldn’t recommend using it for crab cakes unless you have an unlimited budget. This last time I used Giant Eagle’s Colossal crab meat—more expensive than some of the lesser-quality brands, but at $30 for 16 ounces, not a bank breaker.

As for worrying about the farmed vs. wild-caught debate, you can relax when it comes to crab as all crab is wild-caught—there are no crab farms. However, whenever possible I recommend choosing a product from the U.S. And, if you’ve never had Dungeness, go out on a limb and buy some this year from one of the many fishermen working their butts off (and freezing them off too) to bring us landfolk such amazing goodness.

Crab CakesIMG_9219
olive oil
2 stalks celery
½ medium onion
1 lb lump crab meat
¼ cup panko
¼ cup mayo (I use light)
1 egg
3-5 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning (some people use less, some more—I use more than most, but I don’t add salt)
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (clearly, this is optional)
1-2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste (again, I don’t add salt)
butter (a few tablespoons for browning the crab cakes, DO NOT use too much)

Turn oven on to 400 degrees.

Sauté celery and onion in a touch of olive oil until soft. About 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine crab, panko, mayo, egg, seasoning, sautéed celery and onion, and parsley. Set aside.

Melt butter (or ghee or use olive oil) in a cast iron pan on medium high. You want it hot enough to sear the cakes but not burn them. Duh. While the pan is heating, make your cakes. I use about 1/3 cup mixture for each cake. Aim for each cake to be around 2/3 of an inch thick—just be sure they’re not thicker than an inch.

Slide cakes into butter or oil and brown for 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat, turn them over, place cast iron pan directly into oven and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove and serve with slices of lemon or a classic garlic aioli.

Makes 8-10 three-inch diameter crab cakes.

Garlic Aioli
5-6 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon mayo (I use light)
¾ cup olive oil (A lot of recipes call for olive oil, not EVOO. I use EVOO because I like the flavor better but you can try it both ways and decide for yourself.)

Place garlic and salt into blender and pulse until fine. Add egg yolk, mayo and lemon, and pulse on and off a few times. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil pulsing the entire time until a nice emulsion forms. And that’s it. Wicked good and guaranteed to keep the vampires at bay for days on end!

A note about my recipes … most of what I cook isn’t a precise science. It’s look, taste and feel. And I encourage you to cook the same way. Add a little more of this, or a little less of that … and pay attention … and before long you’ll be a wiz at cooking seafood.

DISCLAIMER: I’m a writer and an editor. And I try my best to make sure every post is articulate and free from errors. However, being that I edit my own work—and it’s next to impossible to properly edit your own work—I admit, occasionally there may be an error or two I miss. But doing so doesn’t make me an idiot so don’t be mean. Just smile, pat yourself on the back for finding an error and be glad you’re not the only one who makes mistakes sometimes … yes, even mermaids slip up every now and then. xoxox <\small>

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