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How to Make Crab Cakes

Print Recipe

Cupid's crabby cupcakes.



Luckily, St. Valentine's Day 2013 doesn't fall on a weekend fishing day, giving each of us the opportunity

to spoil our sweethearts with a special home-cooked meal. And what's better than delicious, easy-to-prepare, crab cakes?

How to make crab cakes? Chefs' interpretations of crab cakes range from the ordinary to the sublime. Many consider that if a crab is passed over a lump of doughy bread, a crab cake is created. Others, like me, insist on fewer binders and lots of crab. After all, there's probably no seafood that deserves less “doctoring” than crab. It's sweet—just like your sweetie.

I've seen recipes for crab cakes made with all varieties of these “beautiful swimmers,” but it's the common blue crab that tops my list. Pasteurized blue crab meat, lump or claw, is readily available at supermarkets and specialty seafood shops. Live blue crabs, yours for the boiling and picking, are often available at coastal fish houses. And if you're in the mood to catch your own, a dip net and a chicken neck tied to a string tossed from almost any Florida seawall will soon provide you a bucket of crabs.

I'm convinced that one of the reasons that crab cakes served in restaurants have a considerable amount of bread and binders is due to ease of cooking and presentation.

Cakes with lots of crabmeat tend to fall apart and get messy, for the chef and the establishment's reputation. Some restaurants refrigerate their crab cake mix prior to cooking, and then dust the cakes with flour or breading before dropping them into a deep fryer. The result is usually a fried crab-flavored bread ball. Others, who emphasize that there is crab in the recipe, make patties and more properly

sauté them in a little bit of oil or butter.

These taste better, but depending on how much crab meat is included, almost always fall apart on their trip from the skillet to the plate.

In my personal quest for the most tasty and photogenic of all crab cakes, I've found that baking them in muffin pans helps maintain a consistent shape and crisp exterior, even with a high crab-to-binder ratio. Lightly packing the crab cake mix into a hot pan will give you a head start on a crispy exterior. If you still have Grandma's cast iron muffin pan, use it. If not, the heavier the pan, the better. You'll notice that the recipe included here has very little bread, just a few spices and veggies, one egg and a bit of mayonnaise to hold it all together. Don't overwork the mix, taking special care to fold the ingredients together rather than mash them up into a paste.

Crab-picking time (or crab-shopping time) aside, my Cupid's Crabby Cupcakes are a quick fix, even on a weekday night. Served with a simple green salad and a glass or two of dry Pinot Grigio blush wine, you'll be the hit of your Valentine's Day festivities. FS

Cupid's Crabby Cupcakes

Mix the following:

1 lb. lump crabmeat

¼ cup minced scallions (green part)

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

¼ cup plain breadcrumbs

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 large egg

Canola oil spray

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and then heat muffin pan, lightly greased with canola oil, for 10 minutes. As the pan heats, gently mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl, using a rubber spatula. When the pan is hot, quickly spoon the crab mix into the individual compartments, lightly compacting it with the back of your spoon and taking care to keep the top level. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes, and then cool for 5 minutes before removing and serving. Makes 4 cakes.

Spicy Sweetheart Sauce

¼ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

2 tbsp. finely chopped chipotle chiles (Best found canned, in adobo sauce, in the ethnic foods department of your local supermarket.)

1 tsp. finely chopped garlic

2 tsp. chopped cilantro leaves

Juice of a small lemon

Mix ingredients in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, allowing flavors to blend.

First published in Florida Sportsman magazine, February, 2013.

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