How to Cook Crabcakes

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Coleslaw is a good side dish for crabcakes.
Coleslaw is a good side dish for crabcakes. (Image: bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images)

Start to finish: 1 hour Servings: 4 Difficulty level: Beginner

The classic crabcake, made with lump crabmeat and carefully seasoned with select spices and herbs, is beautiful to look at and wonderful to savor. With the right ingredients and a gentle mixing hand, the fried-in-oil crabcake has a crisp, sizzling exterior that, just barely, keeps the crabmeat from bursting through.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices fresh bread, crusts removed
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat

Directions

Create the Crabmeat Mixture

Tear the bread into small pieces and place them in a large mixing bowl.

In a smaller bowl, mix the mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, parsley flakes, baking powder, salt and egg, using a fork or whisk.

Add the mixture to the breadcrumbs in the larger mixing bowl and gently use a fork to fold and turn it to combine.

Sprinkle seafood seasoning over the ingredients in the mixing bowl. The familiar can of Old Bay Seasoning is the standard for crabcake recipes; however, you can make your own seafood seasoning or just add your favorite spices to the mixture.

Open and drain the crabmeat. Place the crabmeat on a flat surface and pick through it to remove any shells. Generally, higher-quality lump crabmeat won’t have shells, but it’s best to check.

Add the picked crabmeat to the mixing bowl. Handle the crabmeat gently, being careful not to break up the lumps.

Use a fork to gently combine the ingredients, turning and folding them until well mixed. Mixing breaks the crabmeat lumps into smaller pieces, but don’t overmix or reduce the mixture to mush.

Cover the mixing bowl and place it in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. Chilling the mixture helps it hold together when you handle and fry it. If pressed for time, shorten or skip the refrigeration and take extra care forming the crabcakes.

Form and Cook the Crabcakes

Pour ¼ cup of cooking oil into a 9-inch frying pan or skillet. Heat the oil on medium-high until hot. If a drop of water sizzles in the oil, it is hot enough to begin frying.

Use your hands to form 4 round crabcake patties. Pat the tops of the patties a little, but don’t flatten them.

Fry the crabcakes for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy. Remove the crabcakes from the pan and place them on paper towels to drain excess oil.

Serve the crabcakes hot on a bed of lettuce with a few lemon wedges. Add bread, crackers and condiments to give diners a few choices.

Crabmeat 101

Choose the grade of crabmeat that best suits the occasion and your palate. Super lump crabmeat has large, sweet lumps broken from jumbo lump crabmeat. Backfin lump is a combination of special-grade and jumbo lump pieces, while special crabmeat is made from small white meat pieces. Purchase crabmeat fresh or frozen in cans or plastic tubs. Pasteurized crabmeat goes through an additional process to prevent spoilage. However, once the container is opened, spoilage can occur quickly.

Variations and Tips

Variations

  • For crabcakes with a little heat and punch, add ½ a jalapeno, seeded, and ½ teaspoon lemon juice to the recipe.

  • Make homemade seafood seasoning with celery salt, paprika, allspice, black pepper, bay leaves and brown mustard seeds.

Tips

  • Stick to the directions to add the crabmeat last and gently fold the meat in with the other ingredients to avoid breaking up the fragile crabmeat too much.

  • The eggs, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs and refrigeration of the crabcake mixture all help the crabcake hold together. If you don’t have much time, even 10 minutes of refrigeration helps.

  • Use fresh, white sandwich bread in the recipe for better binding with the crabmeat.

References

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