This is one of my wife Kristina’s favorites. I’ve spent years improving upon my recipe, which is kind of an “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” version of crab cakes, but it still keeps the crab the center of attention, as it should be. Good crab cakes start with high quality crab meat and don’t add too much in the way of filler ingredients… If they’re almost falling apart as you’re cooking them in the pan, they’re put together right!
The mustard sauce goes really well with these crab cakes.
This recipe makes 4 large crab cakes, so it’ll either serve 4 or 2 with good appetites. If I make this for 4 I double the recipe and serve 2 crab cakes to a plate to make sure everyone has enough.
Ingredients, Crab cakes:
- 1 lb. good quality lump crab meat
- 1/2 red pepper
- 1/2 green pepper
- 1 small-medium onion
- 1-2 stalks celery
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs plus 1/2 cup for coating the crab cakes
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 whole egg + 1 egg white
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
Ingredients, Mustard sauce:
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- Splash of white wine
- 2 heaping tablespoons of a coarse-ground spicy brown mustard
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup olive oil
Coarsely chop the red and green pepper, onion, celery and garlic.
Put the vegetables in a food processor and chop them on the pulse setting until they’re very finely chopped up, but not pureed.
Saute the finely diced vegetables in a pan with a little olive oil on medium heat until they soften up, about 8-10 minutes.
Add all of the crab cake ingredients except the eggs to a large bowl and combine. Mix well, but be careful not to break up the lump crab meat- the pieces of crab should be evident in the crab cake. I used high quality lump crab meat that comes in a 1 lb. refrigerated can. I don’t know if it’s sold in regular grocery stores- it may require a trip to a seafood market. I’ve also removed the meat from crab legs to make the cakes but obviously that’s going to be time-consuming. If you go that route, you’ll need somewhere between 2-3 lbs. of crab legs to get 1 lb. of meat.
I mix the ingredients without the eggs first, so I can taste without raw eggs added yet and make any seasoning adjustments. Then I add one whole egg and the white from a second egg, saving the yolk for the mustard sauce, and mix the egg in.
Spread about 1/2 cup of the Panko breadcrumbs on a plate, divide the crab cake mixture into 4 and shape into tennis or baseball-sized balls. Roll them in the breadcrumbs to coat, and flatten them out a little bit. Start heating up the pan on medium-high with some butter and preheat the oven to 350 degrees (we’re going to finish the crab cakes in the oven).
When the pan is hot and well-greased with the sizzling butter, add the crab cakes to the pan and cook long enough to brown them- about 4-5 minutes on each side. Be careful not to let them burn. Now comes the fun part…trying to flip each crab cake without them breaking up. I have pretty good success with a two-spatula technique- one below and one on top when you flip. Transfer them to a greased cookie sheet and put them in the preheated oven to finish. I like to use a meat thermometer to make sure they reach 165 degrees in the center.
Now we make the sauce while the crab cakes are finishing up in the oven. Add the chicken stock, egg yolk, splash of white wine and 2 heaping tablespoons of spicy brown mustard to a blender. Mix well, then open the top and with the blender set on a low mix setting, slowly pour the olive oil in. Blending with the egg yolk creates an emusion- which just means oil and water-based elements that don’t normally mix well can now be combined. Now pour the sauce into a pan on low heat (I use the same pan to cook the veggies, brown the crab cakes and heat the sauce, just cleaning it out in-between). Make sure the heat is low and constantly stir, or the emusion will break and the olive oil will separate out of the sauce and it won’t look too good (it’ll still taste good though). If it does start to separate, sometimes you can get lucky and re-emulsify by pouring the sauce back into the blender and blending some more.
The sauce should thicken up and be ready in 10-15 minutes of stirring, just about the time the crab cakes are done in the oven. Add the crab cakes to the plate with a couple lemon wedges and whatever side veggie you’re serving (I did broccoli here but I often serve crab cakes with asparagus, which is really good with the mustard sauce as well). Creatively drizzle some mustard sauce on the plate and you’re ready to serve. Enjoy!