Today I'm sharing my best and favourite crab cake recipe. This one is full of crab and no extra filler. Just enough ingredients to hold them together and highlight the sweet, fresh flavour of the crab.
Crab Cake Competitions On The Boat
If you've been following along for awhile, you likely know I used to commercial fish. I loved fishing so much that I would get my sports fishing license each spring and sports fish after a day of commercial fishing! Fishing for salmon or halibut off the back deck or putting the crab trap in the water for the ultimate West Coast dinner.
One year, my late brother and I got to deckhand together and it is a fishing season I'll always fondly remember. It was a season we got to spend together as young adults (in close quarters no less). Fishing can be exciting but there are also lots of monotonous tasks like sorting prawns or cleaning fish when you have a lot of time to talk.
Ski Bum To Chef
My brother had headed to the interior with his best friend after graduation to hit all the best ski hills. They naturally fell into the ski bum life which meant I didn't see much of him for awhile. When I did hear from him, I heard tales of working in the restaurants in Banff and Lake Louise, drinking amazing wines that customers would leave behind for staff and learning recipes from top chefs. So you can imagine once we were on the boat together, it was game on!
Two Chef Showdown
It was fun trying to recreate fancy food with the confines of fishing boat life but where it got really interesting was when the crab cake competition began. We were catching so many crabs with our one little trap that we started to get creative and decided we were having a crab cake showdown. This went on all season as we tried to out do each other with different sauces, different textures and different flavours. The skipper (our dad) got to be the judge though I can't recall a clear winner....funny.
(Because of a family members gluten allergy, I have also made a gluten-free, low carb Crab Cake recipe that is delicious too.)
What Makes The Best Crab Cakes
I do remember that the highest rated crab cakes had one thing in common, they were mostly just crab without any filler. Crab is my favourite type of seafood. We catch Dungeness crab here in BC and they are naturally sweet with a wonderful firm texture. Whenever I use crab in a recipe, I want to highlight that mild delicious flavour and not overpower it.
My recipe uses a small amount of finely chopped red bell pepper (capsicum) which adds a little more warmth and texture. I use egg and a small amount of the panko crumbs to hold them together. I like a tangy dipping sauce and I've shared my lemon aioli dip here. I like texture in mine so I use shallot and capers but if you prefer a smooth sauce, you can omit those two ingredients.
Top Tips For Perfect Crab Cakes
Less filler makes tastier crab cakes but it also makes them harder to hold together before cooking. I recommend letting your crab mixture sit for 15-30 minutes in the fridge before forming and frying. It helps soften the panko and make the hold together a little easier. And of course using fresh crab is a no brainer. While you certainly can use well drained canned or frozen and thawed crab, fresh lump crab meat will give you the very best result by far.
And so, with warm memories of my brother, I invite you to try our favourite style of crab cake. (My brother Tavis was a stellar adventurer and skier. If you'd like to see some of his ski videos, you can find the on his Youtube Channel here).
Crab Cakes With Lemon Aioli
- 1 ½ c Dungeness Crab Meat
- 2 Eggs
- ¼ c Red Pepper, diced small
- ¾ tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
- 1 c Panko Crumbs, divided in half Or other bread crumbs
- 2-3 tbsp Vegetable Oil For frying
- Optional Local Greens, Edible Flowers and Pickled Radishes For garnish
- ½ c Real Mayonnaise
- ¼ tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
- 1 Lemon, Zest and Juice
- 1 tbsp Chives, minced
- 1 tbsp Shallot, minced
- 1 tbsp Capers, coarsely chopped
- 10 dashes Hot Sauce (Optional, use more or less to your taste)
- Whisk egg until frothy and then stir in all ingredients except crab and ½ c of panko until well mixed. Then gently mix in crab, trying not to break up chunks more than necessary. (Tip: Let sit in fridge at this point for 15-30 min to make forming patties easier)
- Preheat a large frying pan on medium heat with enough vegetable oil to lightly coat the pan.
- Pour remaining ½ c panko in a shallow bowl. Divide crab mixture into 6 large or 12 smaller cakes, press gently into panko and then place in frying pan. Fry approx. 7-8 minutes each side or until golden brown.
- Serve warm. Optional: Serve on fresh local greens with Lemon Aioli and garnish with edible flowers and pickled radishes. (I made quick pickled radishes by soaking sliced radishes for an hour in red wine vinegar)
- Add all ingredients into bowl and stir well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. This can be made up to 3 days prior to using.