Crispy Creole Crabcakes! Do you crave the crispiest creole crab cake on the planet? You’re in luck because it’s right here and easy to make.
The point of your typical creole crab cake is crabby plus crispy with a shot of rémoulade on the side. You want lotsa lumps just barely held together with as little breading as you can get away with. This pretty much eliminates those fine crumbs that come in cans at the grocery store. Appropriate as they are for other uses they render the cakes too dense although in a pinch you can use one cup of stale french bread or ciabatta crumbs in place of the saltines called for in the recipe.
Bayou Crabcakes from Des Allemands
When I was a kid we always had stuffed crabs that my daddy would pick up at some joint in Des Allemands.
I remember them as being tasty, if a bit on the bready side, but mostly remember them as weaponized seafood. After you dug out all the crab filling, the empty shells with the spines made for great sword fights. We would slide back & forth over the terrazzo floor stabbing and slashing like Errol Flynn in a pirate movie.
Crab shell injuries!
This all stopped when my mother stepped on the spine of a shell that had been dropped in the pantry and forgotten. She ended up with a very small and dainty stigma on her left arch (which was high but did not have sufficient clearance for a crab spine).
Since stigmata and stilettos don’t make for comfortable walking we got a stern talking to about how some of the worst accidents can happen right here in the house and not to ever do it again. Translated into kidspeak that meant do it somewhere where she can’t see you doing it and get rid of the evidence when you’re done doing what you were not supposed to be doing. That worked pretty well till we moved on to other forms of juvenile delinquency and their attendant hazards. But time marches on…
And then came the Manhattan crab cakes….
My first encounter with crab cakes like the ones pictured here was in New York at a long gone restaurant in the Flatiron District called ‘Lola’s.’ It was run, surprise, surprise, by a beautiful Baltimore lady named Lola. She may or may not have been the first in NYC to have Jazz Brunches but she was definitely the first to have palm readers roaming the floor to service all interested parties. Watching martini impaired businessmen staring at their hands while the “gypsy fortune teller” retailed her standard variation of the ‘you will find love’ or ‘you will soon be rich’ script was a treat. But the best treat of all was Lola’s crab cakes.
My method (the best!)
Mine, like hers, are simple and concentrate on crab. This may sound obvious but it’s not. You want the sweetest lump crab with just a few enhancements and enough moisture to make it cohere. You can play with the rémoulade all you like but the cake itself should remain pure so let’s get started:
For my version of crispy creole crab cakes you mix all the ingredients, then last of all work in the crab meat. You can do this with a spatula but I strongly recommend using your hands. It’s easier and less likely to break up the lumps.
Once it is mixed you form the cakes. If you want professional looking cakes that are uniform in size and have straight sides use an egg ring like this:
Put the ring on a greased cookie sheet, fill it, press down lightly with your hand, then slowly lift up the ring. The cakes should look like the ones pictured below. And here’s a hint. If you’re having difficulty manipulating the mixture to get it into the egg ring put the bowl of crab gruel into the freezer for about five or ten minutes. Just enough to firm it up. That makes it easier to spoon out.
Once the cakes are formed dust them with some fine bread crumbs or panko and put in the fridge for thirty minutes. After they’ve chilled you may do one of two things. You can bake them till brown in a 350 oven or you can pan fry them in a small amount of butter – just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. I’ve done it both ways and butter is better. Plus the pan prep yields a crispier crab cake. I mean, once you’ve splurged on crab you might as well splurge on butter.
They’re great as an appetizer or as a main course with a big salad and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Just don’t forget to squeeze the lemon before you bite! And for a colorful side try Carrot Vinaigrette Salad.
- For the cakes:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon brown mustard
- 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning (or Prudhomme's Seafood Magic)
- ½ tsp. toasted garlic granules (or onion)
- ⅛th tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- ½ tsp. salt
- 20 square saltine crackers
- 1 lb. jumbo lump crab
- panko or bread crumbs for dusting
- butter or vegetable oil
- lemon wedges
- For the remoulade sauce:
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon capers (any size)
- 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon green onion
- 2 tablespoons diced pickles
- 2 tablespoon brown mustard
- fat pinch of cayenne (or ½ tsp. Crystal)
- For the cakes:
- Whisk together the first eight ingredients.
- Crush the saltines and fold in well.
- Very carefully fold in the crab lumps. Do this with your hands.
- Grease a cookie sheet then put the egg ring on it, fill it with the crab mixture, then lift off.
- Dust the tops of the cakes with fine bread crumbs or panko then put the cookie sheet (or sheets) into the refrigerator and chill the cakes for about 20 minutes.
- Lightly oil a fry pan and cook on both sides until brown. Or if you prefer you can cook in the oven @ 350 until browned (about 30 minutes).
- For the remoulade:
- Puree all the ingredients in a blender.
- Save some additional capers for garnish if you like them whole.