Monday, September 25, 2006

Crab Cakes

We spent last weekend at Sunset Beach, North Carolina, with my parents, just hanging out and relaxing and--of course--eating. Blue crab was the order of the day. From the dock (pictured above), my father and my son teamed up with a single crab trap baited with chicken necks and caught so many crabs in the first 24 hours--almost two dozen--that they stopped throwing the trap in the water: we'd caught all we could eat.

Or, perhaps more accurately, we'd caught all that anyone cared to clean. It isn't a fast process. My mother and I picked the crabs, using nutcrackers and little skewers and any other small tools we could find to eake out the tender white meat from the shells (we didn't have any crab pickers--little hook-like devices that make the cleaning much, much easier). Saturday night for dinner I made crab crakes. My recipe, which is one of those things that is very imprecisely measured and whose ingredients vary each time based upon what I have on hand, went something like this:

Crab Cakes

One big plastic tub (approximately 1 lb.) of blue crab meat, boiled or steamed, removed from shell, and well picked-over
1 egg
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
2-3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 small onion, minced
1/3 medium green pepper, minced
several pinches of minced parsley
a few dashes of hot sauce
salt & pepper to taste
Approx. 1/2 cup bread or cracker crumbs, plus more for coating
butter and/or olive oil for frying

1. Combine the crab, egg, mustard, mayo, onion, green pepper, hot sauce, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and mix well.

2. Stir in enough bread or cracker crumbs to bind the mix together.

3. Spread the remaining bread or cracker crumbs on a plate near the stove.

4. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat, adding in enough butter and/or olive oil (I use a mixture of the two) to coat the bottom of the pan in a thick layer.

5. While the oil is heating, pat the crabmeat mixture into small, thin cakes (about 3 inches in diameter and 1/2 to 1 inch thick) and dredge on both sides in the remaining bread or cracker crumbs.

6. Saute the cakes in the butter or oil, turning once, until golden brown. This usually takes 3 to 5 minutes per side.

7. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and allow to drain.

8. Serve with cocktail sauce or the sauce of your choice.

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