Crab cakes are a lot like meatballs: both come together with the help of an egg, breadcrumbs, and a few common minced vegetables and herbs; both are hand-patted and pan-fried; and both have a sidekick sauce -- marinara for meatballs, tartar for crab cakes.
The two dishes part ways when it comes to protein. Ground meat is as low-maintenance as it gets -- just dump it in the bowl and start piling on the other ingredients. Ever the diva, crab meat requires a once-over.
It might seem as ridiculous as booking two massage appointments back to back, but meticulously picking over the crab meat is the single most important step in making crab cakes. Nothing ruins a meal like biting into a shell fragment. (Or worse, having a guest take that bite.) You end up cautiously gumming each remaining bite as if it's about to bite back. If you didn't pick thoroughly, it might continue the assault. In my opinion, given the cost of lump crab, it had better be docile.
-- Maddy Martin, Head of Distribution and Partnerships at Food52
How to Make Any Crab Cakes in 5 Steps
1. Pick that crab. Designate one little bowl for shell fragments and another bigger bowl for catching the clean crab.
2. For every pound of crab meat, add in a small handful of minced shallot, another of chopped fresh parsley, a bigger handful of diced red pepper, and another of diced green pepper. You'll use about half of each pepper. If you must, you can sub one full pepper.
Also add an egg, 3 or 4 heaping spoonfuls of mayo, a heaping handful of dry breadcrumbs (or toasted fresh crumbs that have been pulsed till fine), and a squirt each of Dijon and Worcestershire. A few shakes of Tabasco, Crystal, or your favorite thin hot sauce are welcome now, too. Mix everything up gently to avoid breaking up the lumps of crab. If it's too wet, add more breadcrumbs. Too dry? More mayo.
3. Form those patties -- with a pound of lump crabmeat, I get 4 patties for entree-sized cakes or 8 patties for appetizers.
4. Thoroughly dredge each patty in all-purpose flour and fry patties in clarified butter for the best browning.
5. Flip only once. Drain on paper towels, and serve hot with tartar sauce.
Now, for that sidekick sauce.
And, in case you still want a recipe to follow, here are three.
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