BREADLESS CRAB CAKES

When my husband travels on business, he frequently brings back the food section of the newspaper from the place he has been. He was in Washington DC this week so I got part of Wednesday’s (June 9) Washington Post. The subject was crab. We became very fond of Maryland’s famous blue crabs when we lived in the Chesapeake Bay area for a number of years. Sometimes we did the traditional thing: we covered the table with layers of newspapers, put a roll of paper towels in the middle, and enjoyed them in all their messy, succulent sweetness with corn on the cob and steamed new potatoes.

Sometimes we bought freshly-picked crab meat and made crab cakes. I’ve been trying to come up with a low-carb version for my old favorite recipe, but have never really been happy with the results. I could make them taste good, but they tended to fall apart and failed to get brown and crispy without flour and breadcrumbs. Much to my delight, my husband’s gift contained a recipe for “Breadless Crab Cakes.” I made a few minor changes, but I give full credit to David Hagedorn, Real Entertaining columnist for the Washington Post, for his easy solution to my problem, simply letting the crab mixture drain for a few hours.

I’m going to try these tonight, so I’ll add a post script if I need to make any revisions. I will divide the recipe by 3 to make 4 crab cakes rather than 12, which should be perfect for the two of us. I will also replace the cilantro with more parsley. (I’m a super-taster and detest cilantro. I’ve been told that Julia Child also couldn’t stand the stuff, which made me feel better.)

Note: Around here, Trader Joe’s and Costco stores sell fresh crab in one-pound cans that can be stored in the refrigerator for quite a long time. Not sure how they do that, but it is very good, with large, meaty chunks of crab, and it is also relatively inexpensive compared to the fresh crab at the fish counter.

BREADLESS CRAB CAKES
The mixture can be made a day ahead and the cakes can be formed several hours before cooking.

3 pounds of jumbo lump crabmeat
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1½ teaspoons powdered mustard
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
6 scallions, white and light-green parts, finely chopped (¾ cup)
¾ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
½ a large jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (1 tablespoon)
¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
3 large eggs
1½ cups real mayonnaise
6 tablespoon olive oil (not extra virgin, which should not be used for high heat cooking) or nut oil

Go through the crab meat and pick out any bits of shell or cartilage, leaving the lumps intact as much as possible. Place the picked crab in a large bowl.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, mustard, Old Bay, scallions, parsley, jalapeno, and cilantro to the bowl. Carefully fold in without breaking up the lumps of crabmeat.

Beat the eggs in a second large bowl, add the mayonnaise and mix well. Gently fold into crab mixture.

Place the crab mixture in a strainer and set over a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Discard the liquid.

Form the mixture into 12 cakes, using 4 ounces each. They should be 3 inches in diameter and about ½ inch thick. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. (The original recipe suggests packing the crab mix into a 3-inch biscuit cutter to form the patties.)

Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 200 degrees.

Heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers in the pan. Place half the crab cakes in the skillet and cook without moving them for 3 minutes or until the bottoms are well browned. Turn them over with a wide spatula. Cook for another 3 minutes until second side is brown. Transfer to a baking sheet and put in over to keep warm until the remaining cakes are cooked.

Wipe out the skillet and add the rest of the oil. Heat as before and repeat the cooking process. Serve warm.

Serving size: 1 crab cake

Nutrition*—Calories: 240, Protein: 22 grams, carbohydrate: 4 grams, fat: 15 grams, saturated fat: 3 grams, cholesterol: 130 grams, sodium: 730 mg, fiber: 0, sugar: 2 grams.

*These counts look a little high to me. I’ll run them on my program and correct them if they are different.

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