Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Crab Cakes and Mom

While I generally try to avoid posts that involve recipes, I’m doing this one as a special request from my mom.

While I generally try to avoid posts that involve my mom (it doesn’t sound very professional), there is some relevance here. You see, my mom introduced me to cooking and de-mystified the process for me.

What she told me was (and I paraphrase), “It’s not nuclear science, Oppenheimer. Read the recipe and do what it says.”

She also taught me that when baking—you’d better follow the recipe pretty closely, but if you’re cooking—you can improvise as needed. She makes a mean lasagna with whatever pasta happens to be on hand.

These days I look to recipes mainly for inspiration. Sometimes I follow along to a certain degree, and sometimes I just steal a technique or a sauce. This is based on a recipe that I got from a can of Phillips crabmeat. Crab cakes aren’t difficult at all, and they make the perfect simple summer meal or Sunday brunch food. Or, you can make tiny ones for appetizers.

1 egg
1 tablespoon (or so) Duke’s Mayonnaise (or Hellman’s for you unfortunate souls who can’t get Duke’s)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon (or so) chopped fresh chive (or your favorite fresh herb)
1 tablespoon (or so) finely diced red onion
1 tablespoon (or so) finely diced sweet red pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Dash or two (or three) of fresh ground pepper
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
8 oz. crabmeat (Claw is fine.)

Beat egg in a medium bowl. Add all other ingredients except breadcrumbs and crabmeat. Mix well.

Add breadcrumbs. Mix. Gently fold in crabmeat until combined. Pat out into four crab cakes. Allow to rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes (not a must).

Cook over medium heat on a well-oiled, non-stick surface approximately five minutes per side until browned and cooked through .

It’s worth mentioning that I love Old Bay seasoning (I would snort it if that was the only way I was allowed to ingest it). Feel free to substitute the seasoning(s) of your liking. Add salt if you want, although if you use a seasoning mix like Old Bay you shouldn’t need any.

A homemade tartar sauce, aioli or salsa is a nice addition. I’ll leave you to your own devices for that.

A few other tips:

Your cooking surface is of utmost importance. I tried cooking them in a stainless steel pan with some melted butted and they stuck like crazy. I now use a lovingly-cared-for, two-burner flat grill and never have problems with sticking. Make sure your surface is nice and hot before you put the cakes on.

Treat the crabmeat gently and you’ll get a better texture in your cakes. I add the crabmeat last and mix gently with my hands.

I like something bubbly if I’m serving these for brunch. The last time I made them, I opened a bottle of Jacob's Creek Sparkling Rosé NV, which was excellent. The sparkling wines from Jacob's Creek show exceptional complexity and character for around $10. If you haven’t tried them—you really should.

And thanks for the cooking lessons, mom. They’ve served me well.


robb said...

I'll have to try that recipe very soon. I love crabcakes. I though live in a sans free zone for Duke's so I'll just have to suffer. Darn.

John said...

Thanks, Robb, Hope you like them. Sorry to hear about the Duke's. Those who know mayo, know there is no other.

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks for the recipe--I'm stealing it and making them next week with Twisted Oak's roussanne/marsanne blend. Got my can of Philips in the fridge waiting. They look delicious and will be perfect with the wine.

John said...

Hope you enjoy them , Deb. I'm terribly jealous that you've got some Twisted Rou/Mar. Hopefully, I'll be able to buy some down this way soon.

Dr. Debs said...

Man, John, those crabcakes are nothing like the one's on the can. They are amazing--love how you've gussied them up with some more zingy ingredients. Everyone at my dinner table pronounced them the best EVER. I am so clumsy it required the use of 2 spatulas to flip them in a non-stick pan but thank God for your tips (non-stick, heat, oil) or there would have been profanity involved!

John said...


I am so thrilled that you and your guests enjoyed my improvised cakes. I agonize over whether to post recipes. Thanks for the report. It made my day.