What a blessing that we live on the Gulf Coast and have such a wonderful abundance of seafood to choose from. I love boiled and fried shrimp, fish of all makes and models, raw oysters, fried and grilled, but my all-time favorite is crab cakes.
I love crab served in almost any way. One of my favorites is as a garnish on a good gumbo. It really adds an elegance that gumbo otherwise lacks. Admittedly, crab is expensive these days, plan on spending $30 or more for a few cups. There are a handful of kinds of crab, with the least expensive being lump and the most jumbo lump (and the best). But no matter what type you buy, make sure to inspect it carefully for any small bits of shell. It is unpleasant to bite into a lovely crab cake and crunch down a bit of shell.
Crab cakes are easy to make and are one of those recipes that does not require exact measurements.
- Crab meat
- One or two eggs
- Mayo (optional)
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Seasonings (my go-tos are Tony’s, red pepper flakes, and Italian)
Put the crab in a large mixing bowl, add an egg, a dollop of mayo, and a good sprinkle of panko, season, and mix well. The consistency you want allows the mixture to be formed into patties, so adjust the dry and wet ingredients accordingly. Falling apart crab cakes are not a good idea.
Form into patties of the size you want, and cook in butter (oil for cooking, butter for browning, as the chefs say) until well-browned. If you get it right, the cakes will have a little crunch to them.
Now the question is garnish or no garnish. It can be as simple as a little brown butter or a more complicated sauce. One of my favorites is aioli. It’s super simple to make if you have an immersion blender. Simply add a cup of good quality olive oil in a cup that the head of the blender will fit into, add crushed garlic, and one whole egg. Pulse the blender until the sauce starts to kick (thicken). Don’t overdo it or the sauce will break and become watery. I like to top the aioli with capers for an extra kick. A good hollandaise sauce also works well, especially if you have a pinch of saffron to add. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, not only because it is hand-harvested but also because it is so good!