Crab cakes are often served as a pricey but sought-after appetizer. Well, it’s no wonder they are so expensive. They are made with lump crab meat and it is sold in many stores at over $30.00 a pound. Is it worth it? For this recipe, I say yes! These tender, golden brown crab patties had me thinking about their fiery sweetness long after dinner was gone. Their unique flavor can be the centerpiece of a casual meal or part of an elegant seafood feast.
The advantage of using lump crab is that it isn’t as flaky as leg or claw meat, and will therefore hold together better. Of course, there are other options available to bring the price down. Costco is rumored to sell a packaged lump crabmeat sourced from the Philippines that is priced at about $13.00 per pound. If you use fresh leg meat, the taste and color will be slightly different than if you used lump, and you may need to add more binding ingredients such as eggs and bread crumbs or corn meal to make sure the cakes stick together. Canned crab meat is also available, though it wouldn’t be my first or even second choice. Genuine King Crab is overfished, so please be sure you are buying from an outlet that uses sustainable sources.
I hand-diced all the vegetables that went into my incredible cakes to make sure I got the texture and fresh taste I wanted. My penchant for cilantro paid off in this recipe, as using a whole bunch was the perfect amount. My habanero was diced extremely fine, while the celery, green onion and red pepper were only slightly larger. Even with time to chop vegetables, the preparation of these patties is simple. For gluten-free eating, use gluten-free panko bread crumbs or organic blue corn meal.
(Makes 8-10 patties)
1 lb. lump crab meat
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 stalks green onion, finely chopped (green and white portions)
1 habanero chile, diced finely and seeds removed
juice of 1 fresh-squeezed lime
3 tablespoons grape seed oil Vegennaise or olive oil mayonnaise
1 large egg
1 cup gluten-free panko bread crumbs or organic blue corn meal (panko will give a lighter texture)
pink Himalayan salt to taste
black pepper to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil or grape seed oil
1 pat butter (1/8 of a stick)
1. In a large mixing bowl, gently flake apart the crab meat and remove any shell or other unwanted pieces you come across.
2. Add 1 bunch chopped cilantro leaves and combine thoroughly.
3. Add diced habanero, diced red bell pepper, finely chopped green onion and celery. Combine well.
4. Add mayonnaise or vegennaise and mix until evenly distributed throughout the meat.
5. Add an egg and mix until completely combined.
6. Fold in the panko bread crumbs or corn meal.
7. Form 2 1/2 inch to 3 inch wide patties by hand. They should stick together easily. If not, add a little more panko or corn meal until they do.
8. Place oil and butter in a 9″ non-stick skillet over medium heat.
9. Brown four patties at a time until they are golden brown. Flip over and repeat on the other side. You must watch them because every stove is different, but it should take approximately 3-4 minutes per side to achieve the gorgeous golden color.
10. Drain finished crab cakes on a paper towel.
11. Serve with Avocado- Cilantro Aioli. The recipe follows.
Avocado-Cilantro Aioli offers the perfect creamy complement to help douse the burn of the habanero’s fiery kick. This recipe with its sophisticated mix of flavors can be whipped up in a minute.
2 ripe avocados (soft but not overripe)
3/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves, loosely packed into measuring cup
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. white vinegar
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. mayonnaise or vegennaise
1. In a medium-sized non-reactive bowl, scoop out the meat of two pitted avocados and mash until smooth and creamy.
2. Combine the cilantro leaves into the avocado. Add the mayonnaise or vegennaise, lime juice, vinegar and garlic and combine.
3. Place the aioli in individual-sized serving bowls or place a large bowl in the center of the table.
4. Dip bites of crab cake into the aioli and enjoy!
Note: as tempting as it may be, resist adding more ingredients as they may mask the naturally sweet flavor or the crab. If you can’t take the spicy habanero flavor, use less or use diced jalapeño instead. I happen to adore the habanero fire, but I realize not everyone will.