Saturday, April 2, 2011
Crab Cakes - the lumpy, the crispy and the loaf
There is a crab cake spectrum. One one end is a crispy cake with a fried panko crust, the meat whipped & chock full of herbs and peppers. At the other is a generally larger cake with lump meat that is bound delicately and sauteed to a golden brown.
If you like the first type, you'll love them at Acquaviva. They have a nice salad menu with a few options and you can add a crab cake on top. Check out their recent renovations, it's such a nice place to sit and be waited on, which is the whole reason to go out, right?
I prefer the lumpy cake, with pieces of meat intact and whole. Dillon's is the place for these. The sandwich is topped with a shallot aioli on sourdough, or try them as an app atop fennel slaw. Their website rocks too - the amazing photos in their gallery makes me want to try everything on the menu.
Can you make meatloaf? Then you can make crab cakes. I make them at home in the lumpy - and lump - style, with the recipe that's on the can. I used to make the lump crab from Trader Joe's that comes in a 16 oz can, but haven't seen it recently. Costco has a decent can too. There's a great recipe from Old Bay. Obviously fresh crab would be preferable - soft shell crab is just coming into season, which would be the ultimate.
You mix up some bread crumbs, egg, mustard, mayo, lemon and spices in a mixing bowl, then you fold in the meat. I like to let it set in the fridge for an hour before making the cakes. you can use your hands like flattened meatballs. For uniform sizing you can use a peanut butter lid, leveling each scoop with a knife. Big, small, baked, sauteed...make them your own. You can even bake them in a loaf pan - just like meatloaf. Actually, not a bad idea, did I just invent a recipe?
photo credit: McCormick's website