By guest blogger Paul Kita, senior associate editor at Men’s Health
There’s only one letter separating crab cakes from crap cakes. Crab cakes—meaty, crispy, light—stand as one of summer’s most delicious meals. Crap cakes—bready, soggy, dense—taste like, well, crap.
This season, conduct your own crab cake quality control. By selecting what you put into the patties, you can avoid the preservatives, additives, and filler.
Take inspiration from Damon Gordon, executive chef of Water Grill in Los Angeles. His recipe calls for a bevy of fresh ingredients that add depth and complexity to the delicate crabmeat. Green apple delivers a tart-sweet tang. Reduced heavy cream helps bind the mixture and lends extra richness. Ritz crackers give the shaped cakes an added crunch when they hit a hot, oiled pan.
Yes, this recipe will take some time, but the sweat equity pays off in flavor. These cakes are no from-the-box-fare. They’re a celebration of the summer to come—and all the good eating it entails.
Recipe by Damon Gordon, executive chef of Water Grill
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- ⅛ small onion, minced
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- ½ small celery rib, minced
- 1 egg
- ¼ green apple, peeled and diced
- 1 teaspoon minced chives
- 1 teaspoon minced parsley
- ½ Tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
- ½ Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ Tablespoon Tabasco sauce
- ½ Tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoon panko breadcrumbs
- Canola oil
- 2 Ritz crackers, crushed
1. In a medium pot over medium-low heat, reduce the cream by 2/3, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
2. In a small pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. As the prepared ingredients cool, make the crab mixture. In a large bowl, combine the crabmeat, garlic, celery, egg, apple, chives, parsley, Old Bay Seasoning, Worcestershire, Tabasco, mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, and panko. Finally, add the cooked onions and the reduced cream, adding a little of the cream a time until the mixture is easy to shape into patties (you may not use all the cream). Form the mixture into 8 4-ounce patties.
4. Preheat your oven to 350°F. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, if necessary, sear each side of the crab cakes until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Place the seared crab cakes on a baking sheet, transfer the sheet to the oven, and bake until the cakes are warmed through, about 5 minutes. Makes 8 servings.
Paul Kita is a James Beard Award–winning food and nutrition writer who edits the How to Do Everything Better section of Men’s Health. He’s the founder of MensHealth.com’s popular food and cooking blog, Guy Gourmet. In 2013, he cowrote Guy Gourmet: Great Chefs’ Amazing Meals for a Lean & Healthy Body. Kita has appeared on the Travel Channel, as well as on numerous local radio and broadcast stations.