So last week I cooked whole dungeness crab. And when dinner was over, we had quite a bit of meat left so I froze it until I was ready to try my hand at a new crab cake recipe. Truth be told, crab cakes are like hollandaise sauce. No, they don’t taste similar, but they’re both divine and both difficult to master. But once you do … it’s awesome. It took me years of trial and error to get hollandaise right, BUT although I’ve discovered how to make great tasting crab cakes, I cannot quite seem to get the “binding” correct—because they always fall apart. Alas, having clarified butter to saute the “cakes” added to their divine flavor and without a doubt, this is my favorite combination of ingredients:
Crab Cakes with Clarified Butter
1 pound crabmeat
1 cup milk
1 and ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
Red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons butter
2 stalks celery
½ cup chopped onion
2-3 garlic cloves
¼ cup light mayonnaise
1 tsp Tabasco
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp Old Bay seasoning
4-6 tablespoons clarified butter
Put crabmeat into a bowl with milk making sure all of the meat is covered, place in fridge for about 15-20 minutes. Soaking crab in milk helps neutralize the amino acids that can cause and overwhelming fishy smell—it’s not necessary, but I know a lot of home cooks who swear by it.
Next, put breadcrumbs into a nonstick pan and “toast” over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Again, like soaking the crab in milk, it’s not necessary to “toast” the breadcrumbs, but I do think it gives the crab cakes a better flavor. Place toasted breadcrumbs into a shallow dish, add the red pepper flakes, Old Bay, and salt and pepper to your liking.
Strain refrigerated crabmeat and set aside.
Saute celery, onion and garlic in butter until browned and soft. Place in mixing bowl to cool. Once cooled to room temperature, add eggs, mayo and crabmeat. Stir softly. Make 1/2-inch thick patties and refrigerate, covered, for about 30 minutes. Next, dunk each crab cake into the panko mixture to coat well and place on a nonstick sheet. Heat clarified butter over medium high. Cook crab cakes for about 5 minutes a side, or until golden brown. Serve immediately, with sliced lemon or a garlic aioli or whatever floats your boat (wink, wink!). Enjoy! Makes 6-8 crab cakes.
Here’s another version of crab cakes that lets you finish them in the oven and uses canned crabmeat—I suggest trying out both ways and discover what you like best. Although honestly, I think once you cook with clarified butter, you will never go back to frying in oil. At least not for crab cakes.
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.
Coming up next week on the blog how to poach salmon and flatbread with crème fraîche and lox.
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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