Fred’s Pretty Darn Close to Perfect Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes hanging out with Tarter Sauce standing over them protectively.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 2 scallions (white and green parts), thinly chopped
  • 2 T chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 T seeded and finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1 t Chesapeake Bay seasoning (Old Bay Seasoning)
  • 1/2 t dry mustard
  • 10 to 15 saltines, roughly crushed
  • 1 pound crabmeat, lump or jumbo lump backfin preferred, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • 2 T peanut oil (or other neutral-tasting oil)
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • Gravy Flour (such as Wondra) or all-purpose flour as needed
  • Tartar Sauce, Homemade (See recipe below), or store-bought
  1. Lightly beat the eggs and buttermilk together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the onion, scallions, parsley, bell pepper, Bay seasoning, and mustard.  Mix in the saltines.  Add the egg mixture and stir to combine.  Fold in the crab meat gently, trying not to break up the lumps.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  3. Mold the crab mixture into 8 cakes and place on a baking sheet covered with waxed paper.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. Heat the oil and butter together in a large sauté pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Once the butter has melted, sprinkle the tops of the crab cakes lightly with flour and place the cakes flour side down in the pan.  Sprinkle the other side lightly with flour. Cook until browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Carefully turn the crab cakes over.  Place the pan in the oven and bake until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately, or turn off the oven and let sit in the oven for up to 30 minutes.  Serve with tartar sauce on the side.

Yield:  8 crab cakes

From Crazy for Crab by Fred Thompson

This a cookbook that Katie got me as a gift a few years back, and unlike many of our others, we have actually made several of the recipes in this cookbook, and even have a couple of favorites, so I was eager to try this one.  I will say that for me anyway, although these were extremely good crab cakes, they weren’t my favorite ones from the cookbook.  They are a bit fancier though, so they would be good for parties, etc.

There were 3 notes that I have to share:   I didn’t use as high a quality of crab meat as he recommended, because it was almost twice as expensive.  Second, this is a note from the book that I must emphasize, “Please take the time to refrigerate the crab cakes at each point called for in the recipe.  It will make your life much easier, and the crab cakes will look and taste much better.”  Finally, the cooking method turned out very well, even though I had the oil a little too hot to start with.  It is my favorite method for cooking crab cakes so far to have them come out looking nice.

If you like crab, I recommend you try this recipe, and if you are crazy for crab, I encourage you to get the cookbook.  It is one of my favorites, and everything we have tried in it has turned out well, mostly due to the fact that Fred takes the time to explain the how and the why.

Tartar Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dill pickles or sweet pickles
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow onion
  • 2 T chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 T dill pickle or sweet pickle juice

Mix everything together in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Cover and let refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.  This sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Notes:  This turned out very well.  I substituted sweet relish for the chopped pickles, and I used vinegar instead of the pickle juice.  It gave it the right balance of sweet and tangy, and even Katie (who doesn’t like tartar sauce) ate it and gave it 2 thumbs up.

Katie: These crab cakes turned out nicely. I agree with Gray that I don’t think they are perfect or even as perfect as some others in the cookbook. This cooking method was different than I have done in the past, and while delicious, I think it adds in a little fat with the oil & butter in the pan. Usually I spray a baking pan with PAM and bake them the whole time so that they don’t soak up any extra fat. But these weren’t greasy and really had a nice crispness to the outside.

I really couldn’t believe I liked the tarter sauce. I have tasted many tarter sauces and have never liked one before. Maybe it was because it went so well with the crab cake. Who knows. Try it yourself and see what you think!

This entry was posted in Appetizers, Main Dishes, Seafood, Weekly Recipes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Fred’s Pretty Darn Close to Perfect Crab Cakes

  1. Pingback: Justin Wilson’s Cayenne Tartar Sauce | A New Recipe Each Week

  2. KatieV says:

    The secret to the tartar sauce is dill pickles. Most commercial tartar sauce uses sweet pickles and it’s too sweet. I have always made Justin Wilson’s recipe, but I’ll try this one next time. Maybe I’ll throw in a teaspoon (or less) of sweet pickles into the whole batch. Just to see how it tastes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s