Thursday, January 1, 2009

Live Simply - Crab Cakes and Champagne

Life is full of quests. The search for "the one." The quest for the perfect purse. And the pursuit of the ultimate crab cake.

If crab cakes are on the menu at a restaurant, I will order them, but, more often than not, I am disappointed. Too much filler. Not enough crab. Mushy texture. Not enough flavor.

It finally occurred to me that the ultimate crab cake might be found in my own kitchen. On the advice of a woman I met at Fish King on Christmas Eve, I used the recipe on the Williams Sonoma website. I cut the amount of breading in half and used Tabasco sauce instead of cayenne pepper. I used half and half instead of heavy cream. I doubled the amount of lemon and parsley.

The results were good. In fact, they were very good, but they were not the ultimate crab cake.

But the year is young, and who knows. I may find the perfect purse AND the ultimate crab cake in 2009. The search for "the one" may take a little longer.

Not the Ultimate Crab Cake but Pretty Darned Good

(Adapted from


2 slices French or Italian bread

3 Tbs. unsalted butter

1/4 cup minced green onions, including some tender green portions (3 or 4 onions)

1 lb. fresh-cooked crabmeat, picked over to remove any shell fragment

4 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/3 cup half and half

2 eggs

4 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. Tabasco sauce

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

Lemon wedges for serving


Remove the crusts from the bread and discard. Cut or tear the bread into small pieces and put into a food processor fitted with the metal blade or into a blender. Pulse a few times to make coarse crumbs; you should have about 2 cups. Place the crumbs in a large bowl and set aside.

In a small sauté pan over low heat, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter. Add the green onions and sauté until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onions to the bread crumbs along with the crabmeat and parsley. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the half and half and eggs until well blended. Whisk in the lemon juice, mustard, salt and cayenne pepper. Slowly add to the crab mixture, stirring continuously so the bread crumbs are evenly moistened. Form into 8 or 12 oval or round cakes about 1 inch thick. Put the flour on a plate or on a piece of waxed paper. Lightly and evenly coat each crab cake with the flour, shaking off any excess.

In a large sauté pan or fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter with the vegetable oil. When hot, fry the cakes in batches, turning once, until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a warmed plate and keep warm until all the cakes are cooked. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Serves 6.

Adapted from Chuck Williams Collection, Simple American Cooking, by Chuck Williams (Time-Life Books, 1994).

In 2009, I plan to live simply and consume more champagne, sparkling wine, prosecco and cava. I also plan to continue my search for the ultimate crab cake recipe.


Adrian Zwierzchowski said...

sounds great ;-)

Margaret said...

What kept them from reaching the pinnacle? Texture? Taste? What would you think about using Panko crumbs instead of traditional bread crumbs?

Susan C said...

Thanks, Adrian.

Margaret, great question. I think it's the taste factor. I like your idea of using panko (which, by the way, means "baby bread" in Japanese). One of the recipes I want to try called for panko. Also, I think I like mayo as a binder better than cream or half and half. I think using half and half was a mistake, but I was sick and tired of using heavy cream in recipes.

The "ultimate" crab cakes are at the Turf Club at Santa Anita Race Track. I found the recipe online and they use NO bread crumbs at all. I can't wait to try the recipe.

Margaret said...

No bread crumbs at all...yes. I think that would be fabulous. I can't wait to hear how they turn out.

handmade jewelry said...

i agree your idea ! very nice blog

Anonymous said...

Oh no! I've never had a crab cake but I have a friend who abstains from flour and sugar. She breaks her abstinence only for a yearly dose of crab cakes when she returns home to Baltimore.
I do have the perfect purse that I bought from the La Canada thrift store near TJ Max. I've had it for ten years.

Susan C said...

Thank you, HJ.

PA, I'm envious that you have found the perfect purse and that it has held up for ten years. May it live on for at least ten more years because it's certainly not something that you could find again.

I've never been to Baltimore, but when I go, I will make myself silly sick with crab.

Petrea said...

That last paragraph sounds like a very good resolution.

PA has found the perfect purse! I've been on that quest all my life. It's unfortunate: I need a purse, but have never liked purses. It's a quandary.

A very happy new year to you Susan. You've been one of my 2008 highlights.

Susan C said...

Petrea, the perfect purse may be the most elusive object on earth.

You've been one of my highlights, too!

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