Crab cakes are heavenly when made with mostly crab and just a bit of flavoring and binder to hold it all together. If you’ve been disappointed with crab cakes in the past don’t give up. This recipe is your salvation. A little veggie, a little flavoring and just the tiniest bit of the things that hold it all together make these the crabbiest of the crab cakes. The gingery tomato jam topping is a special nod to the holidays and so much more fun than regular old tartar sauce. The only downside to making this recipe is that now you know what a great crab cake tastes like and it will be even harder to find them when eating out. Thank goodness it’s this easy to find heaven right in your own kitchen.
It’s that easy: Thankfully there’s no need to crack open a crab and manually pick out the meat. Boss, a widely available purveyor of refrigerated crab meat, has done all the messy work for you. Look for it in the refrigerated case in either backfin, lump or jumbo lump styles packed in an 8-oz plastic tub.
Panko Fried Crab Cake with Tomato, Ginger Jam
Start to finish: 45 minutes
Hands on time: 30 minutes
Makes 8 crab cakes serving 8 as an appetizer or 4 as a main course
- 1/4 cup finely minced green onion
- 1/4 cup finely minced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup finely minced celery
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more for sprinkling
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 egg whites, beaten
- 2/3 cup plus 1 cup panko bread crumbs, divided
- 1 lb back fin or lump crab meat from the refrigerated sea food case, drained
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
In a large bowl combine the green onion, red bell pepper, celery, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, zest, salt, a grind or two of pepper and stir to mix well. Add the egg white and 2/3 cup of the panko and mix well then toss lightly to combine the crab, but not so much that you break down all the nice chunks. Using a 1/3 cup measure as a guide, form into 8 cakes about 3/4-in thick. If the mixture is too loose to form into cakes, refrigerate it for about 15 minutes so it firms up. Pour the remaining 1 cup panko out on a plate and press the cakes into the crumbs on both sides so that they adhere. Refrigerate the cakes on a plate while you make the jam.
Tomato Ginger Jam
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2 minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons peeled and finely grated ginger root
- 2 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Finely ground black pepper
- Pinch dried hot red pepper flakes
- 2 pints grape tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the butter, shallot, ginger, garlic, salt, a few grinds of pepper, hot pepper flakes and tomatoes. Cook, stirring every now and then until the tomatoes pop and soften, about 4 minutes. Smash them with a fork to break them down further and release all the juices. Stir in the sugar and cook until the liquid from the tomatoes evaporates and the mixture is “jammy”. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro to taste and season with more salt, pepper or red pepper flake if it needs it. If it gets too thick, just thin with a little water or white wine. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add half of the vegetable oil. When the oil shimmers, carefully slide half of the crab cakes into the pan and fry them for 3 minutes on the first side, flip them over with a thin edged spatula and cook on the second side for another 2 or 3 minutes or until they are browned on the outside and hot and creamy on the inside. If the cakes are browning too fast, turn the heat to medium so that they heat through to the center. Transfer the crab cakes to a plate to keep warm and cook the remaining cakes in the same manner.
Serve topped with the tomato ginger jam and a sprinkle of cilantro.
In the glass: I love a sparkler with crab cakes. Look for a bargain bottle of bubbly like Freixenet cava from Spain, splurge with Veuve Cliquot from France or explore all the fizzy bottles in between.