A Maryland staple, this crab cake recipe, courtesy of Jenn Segal – Once Upon a Chef, is delicious and easy to prepare (not to mention eat). The key is using fresh lump crabmeat and just enough filler to bind the crab meat together. Great with tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, or lemon wedges. 

The key to this recipe is using fresh, good-quality lump crab meat. Look for fresh-off-the-boat crab meat, which is sold in a clear plastic container, usually resting on ice in the seafood department. It’s expensive, but one pound is enough to make six generous crab cakes (or 12 mini ones), which feeds my family of four easily.

If fresh lump crab meat is not available, the second-best option is refrigerated crab meat, such as Phillip’s, which is readily available year-round. Avoid shelf-stable canned crab meat, which contains additives that affect the taste and texture of the meat.

Servings: Makes 6 large crab cakes
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes, plus at least 1 hour to let the crab cakes set

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CRAB CAKES
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann’s or Duke’s
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup finely diced celery, from one stalk
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 pound lump crab meat (see note below)
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • Vegetable or canola oil, for cooking
FOR THE QUICK TARTAR SAUCE
  • 1 cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann’s or Duke’s
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced red onion
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

FOR THE CRAB CAKES
    1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up.
    2. Combine the eggs, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, Old Bay, salt, celery, and parsley in a large bowl and mix well. Add the crab meat (be sure to check the meat for any hard and sharp cartilage) and panko; using a rubber spatula, gently fold the mixture together until just combined, being careful not to shred the crab meat. Shape into 6 cakes (each about ½ cup) and place on the prepared baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. This helps them set
    3. Preheat a large nonstick pan over medium heat and coat with oil. When the oil is hot, place the crab cakes in the pan and cook until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Be careful as oil may splatter. Serve the crab cakes warm with the tartar sauce.
FOR THE QUICK TARTAR SAUCE
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, relish, mustard, onion, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Make-Ahead Instructions: The crab cakes can be formed, covered, and refrigerated a day ahead of time before cooking. The tartar sauce can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.

Note: If you can only find jumbo lump crab meat, you may need to break the pieces up a bit. If the clumps are too large, the crab cakes won’t hold together well

Note: celery is not traditional in Maryland crab cakes, but it adds a great little crunch; feel free to leave it out if you’re a purist.


Other recipes from Once Upon a Chef you may like:

Raspberry and Cream Parfaits

Black bean salad with corn, cilantro and lime

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

SOURCEJennifer Segal, Once Upon a Chef
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