My husband S and my brother T are great friends. One of the things they love to do together is cook. As far as I can remember, the first food they conspired on were crab cakes, and for a long time they never made them except when they could do it together.
These days, though, S sometimes makes crab cakes on his own; especially at this time of year, when Dungeness crabs are in season in the Northwest. The dish has also become one of my stepson’s favorites, so we usually have them at least once when he is staying with us.
The recipe S and T like (after trying several) comes from the Joy of Cooking. It’s not complicated; like most great food it depends on great ingredients rather than fancy footwork.
(adapted from the Joy of Cooking)
Serves 3-4 (the recipe can easily be doubled if you need to feed more people)
1 pound fresh lump crab meat (we use Dungeness crab here in the Northwest; in Maine we used the local “peekytoe” crab)
2 Tbs butter or olive oil
¼ cup finely diced red bell pepper
½ cup finely diced scallions
1 Tbs minced garlic (or more to taste)
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup mayonnaise (use homemade if you feel inspired, otherwise the kind from a jar works well)
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup minced parsley
2 Tbs + 2 cups Panko style bread crumbs (divided)
4 Tbs butter or olive oil (for sautéing crab cakes)
Carefully pick over the crab meat to make sure you have removed any stray bits of shell.
Heat the butter or oil in a medium saucepan until it foams. Add the bell pepper, scallions and garlic and sauté until soft (8 – 10 minutes). Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the crab meat with the egg, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, salt and black pepper, cayenne, parsley and two Tbs of Panko breadcrumbs. Add the sautéed vegetables and mix well.
Refrigerate the cakes, covered, for at least 30 minutes before cooking them (1-2 hours is even better, if you can manage it).
When you are ready to cook the crab cakes, heat the butter or oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the cakes to the pan 1 at a time. Don’t crowd the pan (it’s best to cook these in small batches and keep the finished cakes warm in a low (250 F) oven while you cook the remaining cakes).
Brown the cakes on both sides, turning after about 5 minutes (these small cakes will need about 8 total minutes of cooking to be fully browned and warm throughout).