Monday, May 30, 2011

Crab Cake Craving

I recently got back from a two-week trip to Florida with my husband and family. We spent some time at Disney and then in a house on the ocean in Vero Beach (which was a-ma-zing). We also had the opportunity to eat at Squid Lips in Sebastian, FL--twice. Both times I had their crab cakes and I have to say, upon returning home, I had a craving for more!

Seafood and I haven't always gotten along. I was a ketchup-only burger sort of child, but in my later twenties my palate evolved quite a bit. I discovered the joys of mustard, onion, pickle and tomato, and I developed a love for heat. I find myself asking why you can't just include jalapenos in everything (seriously - why not?). And recently, I've delved into the world of seafood.

So far, I can only tolerate shellfish--lobster, crab, scallops, shrimp. Haven't tried mussels, yet--not that brave. And I still can't get past the fishy taste of fish (go figure). BUT - I have resolved to try my hand at cooking up some seafood dishes on my own as my husband loves them, and I think he's tired of chicken, pork and beef.

Why not start with a crab cake?

Upon googling the "best crab cake recipe" I started to realize how many variations of crab cake recipes are out there--AND how defensive people are of their ingredients and cooking methods. So, I did what I usually do--jotted down what I found to be the "essential" ingredients, then picked a few from others that sounded good. I also researched ideas for a lemon aioli, like the Grillroom Chophouse & Wine Bar in Chicago serves with theirs (my favorite cakes in Chicago so far). This is apparently sacrilege to those who live on the East coast, but I'm a condiments girl, so I really can't help it!

Anyhow, enough babble - here's the recipe, step-by-step pics and a few lessons I learned along the way. Hope you like it!

Crab Cakes with Lemon-Horseradish Aioli

Serves 8 to 10 people, number of cakes depends on size.


2 lbs lump crab (blue or Dungeness)
6 green onions, chopped
1 cup finely chopped red pepper
1 cup light mayonnaise
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups panko
4 tablespoons flat leaft parsley
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon celery salt
Dash of paprika, to taste
About 4 tablespoons butter
Lemon aioli, recipe follows


In  a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except butter and one cup panko.

Form crab cakes on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Use a spatula to press ingredients together well and a drinking glass or biscuit mold to form them into circles. Be careful not to make them too thick. Sprinkle some of the reserved panko over the top of the cakes and press it down with a spatula.

Refrigerate for at least half an hour.

In a large skillet, melt a few tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat until butter becomes frothy. Add crab cakes, panko side down, to pan. Saute for about five minutes, sprinkle panko on the other side of the cakes, flip and saute for about another five minutes until cakes are crisp and golden brown. Serve hot with lemon aioli.

Notes: I made my cakes too thick, and they browned too quickly on the outside, so the center of the cakes weren't as hot as I'd have liked. Upon researching them later, some recommend no thicker than 3/4". Refrigerating before searing is a MUST. It helps them meld together better. Some will inevitably fall apart on the skillet. But they still taste good! 

Lemon-Horseradish Aioli


1 cup mayo
4 tablespoons heavy cream
2 lemons, juice and zest
2 tablespoons horseradish
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together.
The best crab I could find was in a can - but it tasted fine. At $12 for 8 ounces, I used half crab meat, and have flaked crab-flavored seafood ($3 for 8 ounces). I chopped the imitation crab to make it the same consistency as the real crab meat. No one could tell the difference.

Clearly, my eyes were bigger than my stomach. These suckers were HUGE!

Oooh la la! So delicious!

Served 'em up with some fresh Michigan asparagus (we're enjoying an extended season thanks to all the rain) and some potatoes tossed in an herb-packed pesto. YUM!
Nothing like a good lemon aioli to complement the crab!
Zingy, citrus-y lemon with a kick of horseradish. Easy peasy!

1 comment:

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