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Off The Beaten Palate: Lump Crab Cakes with no stuffing- hard to find!

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I have had more waiters out-right lie to me about the contents of their 'lump crab cakes'.
Maryland Lump Crab Cakes made to perfection, have no stuffing, and are hard to find.
But I've tasted these gems before.
What used to be Sidewalker's restaurant, in uptown Manhatten, made incredible Maryland, Lump Crab Cakes, that had no stuffing and they were delicious! All crab meat!
I was trying to figure out what was binding the ingredients together and made them perfectly shaped- never fell apart.
Can egg alone, bind the crab meat? Peraps they snuck some panko in there?
All the recipes I've found have breading or flour.
If you have a good recipe-with no stuffing, I'm ready to give it my taste test.

Note: when you ask a waiter if the 'lump crab cake' has stuffing, and the first word they utter is, "umm", beware!
Do I have to go "Off The Beaten Palate"?

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  1. There is a restaurant in Montreal that makes Maryland Lump Crab cakes, and they are amazing. They state that there is no stuffing. Relevant to you, the restaurant has a branch in NYC, and it's called Milos. Someone posted here a while ago that they prefer the NYC ones, so they must be exceptional as the ones in Montreal are wonderful.

    2 Replies
    1. re: souschef

      I've been to Milos, so next time, it'll be the Maryland crab cakes!
      Thanks a bunch- I can taste already!

      Eat Life! "Off The Beaten Palate"!

      1. re: ma_offthebeatenpalate

        When at Milos also try the grilled octopus and tuna sashimi. If Montreal is anything to go by .....

    2. I actually like to add some cracker crumbs to my crab cake, but I like them fried. I remember the Baltimore City paper had a nice crab cake article a few years back. They key is that to make a fillerless crab cake, bound by mayonnaise or egg yolk, is that they must be chilled and broiled in order not to fall apart. Pan fried crab cakes really do need a little more something as a binder (the key is to not go overboard, as many restaurants tend to do).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jason1

        I'd even try to go as far as substituting the egg or mayo with yogurt. Yes, something has to bind them. I think no matter in the over or on top of the stove. Panko isn't that bad, when you think of it.
        I'm going to have to start experimenting with this one. Have a crab cake cook off-:)
        Thanks!

      2. Here it is, more information than you probably want to know, courtesy of Henry Hong.

        http://www2.citypaper.com/news/story....

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jason1

          Oh, thanks, that one looks fun.

        2. There was a similar request here last summer. Someone posted a recipe in which the binder was gelatin and a little pureed scallop.

          1 Reply
          1. re: EricMM

            Gelatin, that's a new one. Scallops- that sounds good.
            Scallops pureed? Yum! I'll have to post that recipe.

          2. Actually, the recipe on the can of Old Bay is pretty good. Instead of bread I use a leftover biscuit from Popeye's. One little piece of bread for a pound of jumbo lump crab is not too much.
            Take your cholesterol for a ride

            1 Reply
            1. re: phatface

              True, not too much. With the crab being somewhat high in Cholesterol, that bit of biscuit is not going to hurt.

            2. I have been hearing this story about "no filling" for years. My favorite is the Ocean City, MD restaurant that brags "All Jumbo, no Mumbo". Don't believe a word of it. I have tried to make crab cakes with everything imaginable in order to leave out the breadcrumb in the filling, and guess what? It needs a little. Very little. Read on.

              After a couple of decades of trying, this is what I make when I make crab cakes. I do not eat them out at restaurants unless I am visiting Maryland -- that's how picky we are around my house!

              1 lb. jumbo lump crabmeat. (Note, some markets offer different size lumps, the biggest is not necessarily the easiest to use, so go for something in the middle if you want to try upgrading the crab meat)

              1/2 cup mayo
              2 tablespoons Old Bay
              1 egg
              1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumb or Panko for the filling.

              (Try leaving out the breadcrumb, and see if you prefer it. It will be a horror to broil or pan fry).

              Also -- you will need about one cup of unseasoned bread crumb or Panko to roll the crabcakes in that has been seasoned with one teaspoon of Old Bay.

              Shape into 4 to six large crab cakes. Gently roll into seasoned breadcrumb and place on non-stick quarter sheet tray or lightly oiled (EVOO) cookie sheet. Broil ten to fifteen minutes until heated through and the bread coating is browned.

              10 Replies
              1. re: RGC1982

                That's close to the recipe I use except I add some very very finely minced shallot and celery. I've found if I shape them and chill until firm (at least an hour), then quickly dredge them in crumbs right before they hit the pan, they'll hold their shape through pan frying and gentle turning.

                1. re: RGC1982

                  (Try leaving out the breadcrumb, and see if you prefer it. It will be a horror to broil or pan fry).
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~
                  not always. works just fine for me with the right proportion of mayo, mustard and egg.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I plan on trying this tonight.
                    Do you use a lot of mayo? I thought a mixture of mustard and hummus would work, but I don't want to overwhelm the crab.
                    I'm trying to make crab cakes that are diet friendly, not just gluten-free. Is this possible, you think? I plan on baking them, as sofsteel suggested on another thread.

                    1. re: rabaja

                      i'm not crazy about mayo so i don't use a lot. it's mixture of mayo, Dijon or whole-grain mustard (depends on my mood), and beaten egg - mostly white, which is really the key to holding it together because it firms up as they bake. just go easy on the mustard and you won't mask the crab flavor, and if yours don't have to be GF you can use a touch of whole wheat bread panko to help hold them together. the other option, which i've used with much success, is a bit of ground flax or chia - healthy AND a great binder.

                      for flavor, i usually add a *teeny* splash of GF tamari in place of the standard worcestershire, and my own blend of spices since Old Bay is too salty for me.

                      and yes, i always bake them on a sheet pan and finish under the broiler to brown/crisp the top.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        thank you, ghg! looking forward to eating them tonight and maybe putting some in the freezer for quick meals.

                        1. re: rabaja

                          always a pleasure :) hope they're a success!

                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I really like this one! Great idea on the flax- that's one I will try.
                          I'm cooking for someone with Diabetes, so this healthy approach is what I need. Thanks!

                          1. re: ma_offthebeatenpalate

                            anytime. as you get to know some of us here on CH you'll learn that i'm always happy to share tips for upping the nutrition of recipes, making them diabetic-friendly, making them GF....enjoy!

                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Do you use egg too? I am up for trying it again. Can you share your proportions/recipe?

                      3. re: RGC1982

                        instead of breadcrumbs, I used chopper smashed UTZ potato chips (half old bay style) and only 1 tbsp old bay mixed with the cake.. did not roll cake but coated bottom of tray, in a hurry just dropped mix, and sprinkled on top and carefully spoon reformed into desired shape to maintain integrity... careful not to overcook (10 mins at preheated 475 ok) as normal browning does not happen... made 6 lump crab cakes.. great results.. and oh yes.. Hellmann's mayo

                      4. Try mashed potatoes

                        1. I have a recipe for Crab Cakes in the style of Le Bec Fin, where the chef binds them with shrimp that has been processed into a paste and a bit of cream; no filler or other binders whatsoever. If you're interested I'd be glad to post it.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: mamachef

                            I have the book, and the recipe does look interesting. I should try it out. Thanks.

                            1. re: souschef

                              I would love the recipe; what book?
                              M-A
                              Eat Life!

                              1. re: ma_offthebeatenpalate

                                no book necessary:
                                http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/th...

                            2. re: mamachef

                              Sorry, mamachef, I didn't see your response before I posted!

                            3. There is a recipe in a Pierre Franey book for lump crab cakes that use a shrimp mousse as a binder. The DH makes it frequently and it is very good. However, I really like the recipe in Best Recipes that uses a minimal amount of breadcrumbs for binder, and they are seriously delicious and not bready at all.

                              1. There is a great recipe for crab cakes that are essentially bound with a shrimp mousse in "Becoming a Chef" by Andrew Dornenburg. I don't have a copy of it at hand but if I find one on line I'll post it.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: artychokeasana

                                  Sounds delicious, but this is nothing like Maryland Crab Cake.

                                  1. re: RGC1982

                                    Well it's been more than 20 years since I've had a crab cake in Maryland-so I'm sure you are right. What are the hallmarks of a Maryland Crab Cake that make it different from just a crab cake?

                                    1. re: artychokeasana

                                      My crabcakes have very little filler.
                                      1 egg, beaten
                                      1 Tbsp. mayo
                                      1 tsp. dijon
                                      1 tsp worcestershire
                                      1/2 tsp old bay
                                      dash or more of cayenne
                                      8 saltines crushed.

                                      I mixed all the ingredients except saltines together, add a pound of jumbo lump crab, then gently fold in the saltines.

                                      Mound onto a lined cookie sheet and place in freezer for one hour. I pan fry or saute in a little oil.

                                2. I swear by Regina Schrambling's crab cake recipe. I make it several times during Lent (meatless Fridays, you know>) I skip the old bay, use dashes of Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, & cayenne pepper. I form into 6 not 8 patties. I lightly dip them in seasoned panko breadcrumbs, chill for an hour or so & pan fry in butter. Deliciousness!!!!

                                  Crab Cakes
                                  From LA Times, Regina Schrambling
                                  8 servings

                                  1 pound jumbo lump or Dungeness crabmeat
                                  4 green onions, green part only, thinly sliced
                                  1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (or cilantro)
                                  1/2 cup panko or fine dry bread crumbs (recommend panko)
                                  1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (or to taste)
                                  1/4 cup mayonnaise
                                  Salt
                                  Freshly ground black pepper
                                  1 large egg, lightly beaten
                                  4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
                                  1/4 cup olive oil

                                  1. Pick over the crabmeat to remove any cartilage, trying not to break up the chunks. In a bowl, gently toss the crabmeat, green onions, cilantro, panko and Old Bay. Again, try not to break up the crab.

                                  2. Gently fold in the mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Add the lightly beaten egg and fold just until the mixture is well combined.

                                  3. Shape the mixture into eight fat ball-like cakes. (They will flatten slightly during cooking.) Place them on a platter or a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Drape a second sheet of wax paper over the top. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

                                  4. In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat. Carefully lay the crab cakes into the butter and oil and fry until crusty and browned, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Serve hot, with a chilled sauce.

                                  1. Try Joe's Stone Crabs in Miami and Ruth Chris Steakhouse - both have no stuffing/fillers.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: GourmetPiggy

                                      upscale steakhouse chains generally all do good crabcakes. minimal to no filler, bound with egg and butter.

                                    2. Peel a russet chop and boil make stiff mashed potato using butter and cream pass through ricer and cool down to room temp. Use purée as filler. 1-2 oz will bind a pound of jumbo lump.
                                      Mystery solved :)

                                      1. These use a base of reduced cream and egg. We liked them.
                                        http://food52.com/recipes/18201-brigi...