I’m a big fan of sweet Dungeness crab, and when it’s in season I do my very best to eat as much of it as I possibly can. Last year was a real bummer, so I’m doubling up this year and making sure I make up for lost time.
Cracked crab with warm melted butter and Meyer lemons is awesome, but if you are having a party, it’s a bit of a messy undertaking. That’s where the beauty of crab cakes comes in. Yes, it’s a bit more work to pick all the crab, mix the ingredients together and fry them up, but if you love your friends and family (and yourself) you will find it in your heart to make crab cakes. Because, really, who doesn’t like a delicious crab cake (not looking at you vegetarians/vegans or those of you who are unfortunately allergic to our shell-fishy friends).
If you can find them and have a little extra time, cook live crabs; otherwise seek out a great seafood market that cooks them fresh each day. Try to avoid canned or frozen crab. As much as I love crab, I find the pre-cooked ones to be a bit too fishy-tasting, so I like to give it a gentle rinse in a fine-mesh strainer under cold water first. Be sure to pat it dry before moving on. You can certainly skip this step if you like the flavor! And to save some time, have your fishmonger clean and crack the crab for you. Then you just have to pull out all that succulent meat (and try to stop yourself from eating it all before you can get it into the mixing bowl).
I make these into little bite-sized cakes that you can pop into your mouth. Just line them up on a warm platter, dollop a little of the mayo on top, and serve away to your guests. They make very special hors d’oeuvres. You can also form these into larger patties to serve for lunch or dinner, or as a starter course to a more elaborate meal.
The spicy Sriracha mayo is a nice counterpoint to the sweet crab and green onion. If you don’t like it, just serve these with a lemony aioli, remoulade, or even just slices of lemon.
Recipe: Crab Cakes with Spicy Sriracha Mayo
Makes about 28 mini crab cakes
- 1 large egg (preferably organic), beaten
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 green onions, finely chopped, plus 1 tbsp more for garnish
- 2 tsp finely chopped parsley
- ½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
- About 1 lb fresh Dungeness crabmeat (from 2 crabs; 3 lbs total)
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tsp Sriracha chili sauce, or to taste
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, mayo, green onion, parsley and lemon zest until combined. Gently stir in the crab meat and 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs. Form into approximately 40 mini crab cakes, each about 1 tablespoonful, pressing them together to hold. If not frying right away, put the cakes on a plate or platter, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to fry; the cakes can be made up to 3 hours in advance.
- To make the spicy mayo, stir together all the ingredients in a small serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate; the sauce can be made up to 3 hours in advance.
- When ready to fry, put the remaining 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs onto a plate and lightly coat each side of each crab cake.
- Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Place about half of the cakes into the hot pan, making sure they are in a single layer and there is space between each one. Cook until golden brown, turning once, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain, then fry the other half.
- Serve at once with the spicy mayo alongside, or, for passed hors d’oeuvres, place the crab cakes on a platter, top with a little dollop of mayo and a sprinkle of green onion.