Crabcake overload - ISO best recipe
East coast girl seeking best recipe one can possibly muster to recreate on the westcoast. Not a huge fan of green peppers, but willing to try just about anything else. Also, any tips for aiolis or remoulades to go with would be wonderful. Been reading all the recipes on Foodtv.com and epicurious.com and overloaded with so many choices. I want to know what has been the best for you all! Thanks!
As a mayo-hater (but crab lover), I had a trouble finding a good crab cake recipe. I really like the one linked below from epicurious -- it's mostly crab, without much filler. I leave out the hard boiled egg and bake instead of frying.
As a native Marylander I must say keep it simple, let the crab shine. Here is the recipe I use, It has never failed me. It makes a nice light cake. Note: the chilling step is important, it helps the cake set up & keeps it from falling apart in the pan.
In a bowl combine well: 1 egg, 1/2 cup mayo, 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 TBS dried parsley flakes,
1 tsp Old Bay or other seafood seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground blk pepper, 1/2 tsp dry mustard
Stir in 6 finely crumbled saltines (think a fine meal here)
Gently fold in 1 lb of lump of backin crab meat that has been picked over for shell
Form into cakes (about 6 large) Place on tray & chill in fridge at least 1 hour
Heat butter (1/2 stick) in a heavy skillet & brown cakes for 3-5 minutes on each side
Crabcakes are a hugely flexible medium - as you've discovered. "Best" is in the eye of the beholder. Good method and technique and your own interpretation will probably yield the best result.
The cakes can be a simple mix of meat, small diced vegetables, flour, and egg to bind. Panko or some other form of bread crumb is optional.
The sauce is equally flexible, but a mayonaise base makes sense to equal the richness of the crab. An infused olive oil could also work, but maybe with a cake that isn't breaded.
The optional accompaniment is most likely a plate of lettuces properly dressed with something that harmonizes with the cakes and sauce.
Whole live crab is your best starting point. But really, picked makes it happen. Sometimes the picked product is water logged (and it's sold by weight, could you imagine why?). If it is "wet" it can be squeezed to remove some of the excess water - picture compacting a snow ball.
Vegetable additions are a matter of preference and proportions. I typically use celery and onion. I think the crab is sweet enough without the addition of carrots. You could add diced fennel, green garlic, scallions, leeks, and you name it. The vegetables should be small diced, and sauteed briefly with light oil, salt and pepper. The brief cooking allows the vegetable to stand up in terms of texture and flavor. Add half first, and give it a taste. If you think it needs more vegetable boost it up untill it feels right in your mouth. It should be about the taste of crab.
Binding proportions depend upon your breading choice. Add a beaten whole egg and a couple tablespoons of flour as a starting point. Forming cakes and frying can be done with finesse and less binding ingredients, or the egg flour ratio can be increased to make the cake more burger like. You can also add some bread crumb/panko to give it some structure (formability).
Frying temperature and fry oil are variables. Clarified butter is a good alternative to olive oil or vegetable oil. It somehow doesn't add alot of flavor but makes the breading a little richer.
Maybe not a good candidate for the definitive best because it's a variation, but one of my local places does a crab cake with rock shrimp which really helps the texture. He gave the recipe out at a cooking class. I've done it at home (reducing quantities) and it was great.
2 lb. crab meat, 1 quart rock shrimp, chopped, 1 bunch green onion, chopped, 1/2 tbsp white pepper, 1/2 tbsp cajun pepper, 6 oz dijon mustard, 11 oz. mayo.
Mix all ingredients and then slowly add anough Japanese panko bread crumbs to get the texture you want.
He makes his own mayo for use in the crab cakes, and also serves the crab cakes with mayos flavored with watercress, red pepper or whatever. If you get some rock shrimp, try it some time.