As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we did a collaborative “friendsgiving” this year. From the turkey, to the stuffing and sides, to the pumpkin pie and spiced carrot cake, the meal was incredible. But the dish that still sends me into reveries was an appetizer that my friend Jeff brought. When we were planning the menu (yea, we’re the type of people to schedule menu-planning meetings) he offered, with a twinkle in his eye and a mention of some family recipe, to bring crab cakes. I’ve always enjoyed crab cakes and didn’t think any more about it (after all, a crab cake is a crab cake, right?). That is, until Kelley revealed that Jeff had tested the recipe not once but three times before Thanksgiving to make sure it was just right. I started to get curious. Jeff is a Brooklyn native with a New Yorker’s attitude and a teddy bear’s spirit. He loves food with a tenderness usually reserved for puppies but he doesn’t mince words if he doesn’t like something. These were going to be good.
On Thanksgiving, when Jeff put down the first hot platter of his crab cakes (“crab mounds” he calls them), topped with a slightly spicy Sriracha-spiked remoulade sauce, we demolished them literally within seconds. My idea of what a crab cake should be changed forever. Forget heavy, breaded patties, these bad-boys are tender, light and flavorful, brimming with crab. They’re barely held together, with a crispy bottom and a pure, fresh flavor. The second and third platters disappeared just as quickly, even though we all knew we should be saving room for the big meal ahead.
Jeff agreed to let me share his recipe, and it will make you a star at your next holiday meal. The recipe was passed down to him from his mom’s first cousin, who’s a Maryland native. He’s made some minor tweaks, including adding a special “secret” ingredient, which I had to pry out of him like grout out of tile—Chinese hot mustard (the kind you find in the Asian aisle of the supermarket). It adds subtle tang without overpowering the flavor of the crab. Be sure to use good quality, fresh jumbo lump crabmeat. This is the time to splurge (if you can’t find it at your local supermarket, there are several good mail-order sources.) Serve the crab cakes as an appetizer or first course, then step back and take a bow.
Merry cooking to you all!
Jeff’s Crab Cakes with Sriracha Remoulade
- 1 egg , beaten
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon mayonnaise (not light)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese hot mustard (the prepared kind, not powdered)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (regular or gluten free)
- 1 pound fresh jumbo lump crab meat
- 2-3 tablespoons butter , divided
- Lemon wedges , for serving
- Sriracha Remoulade , for serving (see recipe below)
- Whisk together the egg, mayonnaise, rice wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Chinese mustard, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Stir in the Panko breadcrumbs. Gently fold in the crab (you want the crab to stay in big chunks). Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary (as Jeff says, try not to eat all the mix). Do Ahead: The mixture can be made up to 1 hour in advance and refrigerated (the cakes will take slightly longer to cook).
- Preheat the broiler.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. As Jeff explains, “At this point, I grab a bunch of the crab mixture with my fingertips—a little more than the size of a golf ball—and place it into the pan, leaving ample space between each one.” You’ll be able to cook about a third to half of the mixture at a time, depending on the size of your pan. Fry the cakes until golden brown and crispy on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Carefully transfer the cakes to a baking sheet. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels, melt another tablespoon of butter, and repeat until all the crab mixture is used.
- Place the baking sheet on the top rack under the broiler. Cook, watching closely, for 3-5 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are browned in spots. Serve immediately out of the oven with a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice and Sriracha Remoulade sauce.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha
- 1 small garlic clove , grated on microplane or minced finely
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onions
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper
- Mix together all of the ingredients, and season with salt and pepper. Do Ahead: The remoulade can be made up to 2 days in advance.