Classic Crab Cakes

When the weather hovers in the mid-80′s for weeks on end my thoughts inevitably turn to the beach. Daydreams of cool blue waves, harsh sunshine bouncing off the sand, and the smell of hot sunscreen make me long for an afternoon out of the office (and a jet plane to whisk me 1,000 miles to the nearest ocean). Ah, the fantasies of summer.
With no beach nearby I instead content myself with sock free weekdays (hooray for sandals!), dinners on the porch, and as much fresh seafood as I can get. The traveling fishmongers who come through our town during summer months resumed their schedule last week. I originally was quite worried that we would be without fresh shrimp and crab this summer. Thankfully their boats are based out of Texas, West of the tragic oil spill. Yet with the significant loss of habitat and sea-life in the region, the gulf seafood we can still purchase is now all the more precious.

Making Crab Cakes

The lump crab meat sold by our fishmongers is actually Maryland crab, but is still quite a treat. To celebrate the start of summer and further my beach fantasies I decided to make classic crab cakes with the shelled claw meat. Inspiration came from the king of simple recipes, Mark Bittman. His crabby crab cakes, combine shallots, egg, dijon mustard and flour with the crab, for a basic yet absolutely delicious crab cake. The cakes come together in a few minutes, and can be prepared ahead of time, making them perfect for a leisurely weekend or an easy summer dinner party. If you are looking for a homemade cocktail sauce to pair with the cakes, Deb’s recipe is a solid base from which you can tweak away to match your tastes. So break out the flip flops, turn on a little Bob Marley, and chill out on the deck with crab cakes this summer!

Classic Crab Cakes

Classic Crab Cakes (Printable Recipe)
Barely Adapted from Mark Bittman, NY Times
Time: 1 hour, largely unattended
Ingredients:
1 pound fresh lump crab meat
1 shallot, finely diced
1 egg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons flour, more for dredging
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or neutral oil, like canola or grape-seed
4 tablespoons butter (or use a total of 4 tablespoons oil)
Lemon wedges
Directions:
In a medium bowl, gently mix together the crab, egg, mustard, salt, pepper, and 2 Tablespoons of flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes to chill.
After 5 minutes, line a plate with plastic wrap, and shape the mixture into 4 hamburger-shaped patties. Set each patty on the plastic wrap and cover them with additional plastic wrap. Place the plate with the patties into the fridge and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to one day. If you are in a rush, place the plate in the freezer for 15 minutes instead.
Place flour for dredging in a shallow bowl. Place a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, and add oil and butter to the skillet. When the butter is melted and stops foaming, quickly dredge a crab cake in the flour. Gently tap off any excess flour and add the crab cake to the skillet. Repeat this process with remaining crab cakes. Turn up the heat to medium-high. Cook the cakes, browning the first side for 5-8 minutes, or until golden. Turn the cakes over and cook the other side, which will take less time, about 4-5 minutes. When the cakes are brown on both sides, remove them from the pan and set them on paper towels to drain. Serve hot, with lemon slices to squeeze on top and a side of cocktail sauce or tartar sauce.
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