In July of 1997, while helping a friend prepare for a dinner party, I was introduced to this recipe for crab cakes. It has remained a constant in my recipe collection ever since. I have never found a better recipe or tasted a better crab cake. My husband is an Annapolis grad so, having spent many days eating Maryland crab cakes, I think he is a good judge.
Some recipes just do not need to be improved on. This recipe originally appeared in The Best of Food and Wine in 1992 before the popularity of blogs and the flood of internet recipes. Before the days of screenshots or easy printing, I copied the recipe into my journal and have been using it ever since. The stained smudged pages attest to its use.
For those of you who look away if a recipe has over five ingredients, this one might be a shocker at 19 ingredients and 7 more for the sauce. IT’S WORTH IT! So is the Aioli sauce. I often make a double batch and freeze half by wrapping each individually. They thaw and cook beautifully. What a treat it is on a weekday to have a salad and delicious crab cake for dinner.
The original recipe called for one pound of crab meat. I increased it to two and adjusted the egg and bread crumb ratio accordingly. You won’t be sorry, but if you want to try it with just one pound to cut cost, just use a bit less egg and bread crumbs in the crab mixture. You will be able to tell when you form the patties or cakes. They should hold together nicely and be neither too wet nor too dry.
Crab Cakes with Aioli Sauce
2 pounds Dungeness or lump crabmeat
2 cups dry breadcrumbs
1 celery rib, finely chopped
2 medium scallions, chopped
1 small carrot, minced
2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups of vegetable oil for frying
lemon wedges for serving
Sherry Aioli Sauce for serving
Sherry Aioli Sauce
3/4 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon Sherry Vinegar (do not substitute with a different vinegar as the unique flavor of Sherry Vinegar makes this Aioli delicious)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
In a medium bowl, toss the crab meat, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, celery, scallions, carrot and parsley. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the beaten egg.
In a small bowl, whisk the mayo, sour cream, garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, salt, mustard, hot pepper sauce and black pepper. Stir into crab meat mixture.
Place the remaining breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, beat 2 teaspoons of water into the remaining eggs. Scoop up a heaping tablespoon of crab mixture and form into a Patty about 1/2 inch thick. Dip it into the beaten egg, turn to coat and shake off excess.
Then dip into the breadcrumbs and turn to coat. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. (this recipe should make 24 small crab cakes or 12 large crab cakes)
This can be prepared two hours ahead, cover and refrigerate.
When you’re ready to cook, in a deep medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. No more than six at a time, fry the crab cakes turning once until golden brown, about four minutes, transfer to a plate covered with paper towel and drain briefly. Then transfer to a rack over a baking sheet. Keep in the oven set on low while you fry the rest.
Note: I occasionally make this same recipe without the egg and bread crumb coating on the outside and instead of deep-frying the crab cakes I put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and bake them at 375°F until they are warm throughout, about 15 minutes. They will not brown like fried crab cakes but they will have the same delicious fresh crab flavor with fewer calories.
Sherry Aioli Sauce
In a medium bowl, whisk the mayo, garlic, lemon and vinegar. (this can be done in a food processor)
Very gradually drizzle in olive oil until all is incorporated. You are creating an emulsification so the mixture should thicken.
Season with salt and pepper and hot sauce as desired.
Sauce can be made one day ahead, cover and refrigerate.