I'm always hesitant to order crab cakes. Mainly because most places fall short in including a key ingredient: crab. I refer to those as "cakes" since they are mostly just a filler of cracker, celery, onions or whatever. You chew with your eyes closed in concentration, trying to detect that twelve dollars worth of shellfish, but only taste mayonnaise-y Saltine's with perhaps the essence of the critters.
Crab cakes are easy to make, especially if you don't have to crack the crabs to get the meat. They're often fried, but I prefer them sautéed in a bit of olive oil or butter. This recipe is an adaptation of James Peterson's in Fish & Shellfish.
1 lb lump crabmeat
6 T fresh bread crumbs or Panko
1/2 C milk
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I was out of this so I substituted Old Bay Seasoning which was quite good)
3 T finely chopped parsley (I prefer Italian, or flat leaf, parsley)
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C unsalted butter
Lemon wedges for garnish
Tarragon aïoli (recipe below)
Beat eggs, milk, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Stir in crab, chopped parsley and bread crumbs.
Shape the crab mixture into 8 patties (note: they will be very loose, almost falling apart, but fear not, they will stay together in the pan). Gently roll them in flour and shake off the excess. Or, if they are too loose, hold the crab cake in your hand, sprinkle one side with flour (letting excess fall off), flip to your other hand and do the same. Heat butter in a large sauté pan. Sauté crab cakes for about 4 minutes on each side. Place on paper towels to remove excess butter.
Aïoli is a Provençal specialty served with fish and vegetables (its less fancy name is mayonnaise). It literally translates to "garlic and oil." Nothing is better than a fresh aïoli. It's so addictive you'll never want to eat jarred mayo again.
2 large fresh egg yolks
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (optional)
1/4 cup very hot water
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves
Place the egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice, salt, tarragon and Tabasco sauce in a food processor or blender and process until homogenized. Add the hot water and process for 10-15 seconds. Slowly add the olive until sauce thickens. Place in a bowl.
We also made a smoked paprika aïoli, which was fantastic. Just follow the basic aïoli recipe.
Serve crab cakes on a bed of baby arugula lightly dressed with truffle oil, lemon and a pinch of Kosher salt. Garnish with lemon wedges and drizzle a little of the aïoli on top.
Check out What's For Dinner's recipe for Betty's Authentic Baltimore Crabcakes
Other tasty versions of aïoli:
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