Image of crisp and tender crab cakes was taken on Hilton Head Island at Poseiden Restaurant in Shelter Cove. They are located mid-island in the heart of the dining, shopping, and entertainment region offering seafood, steaks, and so much more. Poseidon is named for “the god of the sea.”
Once you learn how to make crisp and tender crab cakes, you’ll never end up with soggy or dense cake-like crab cakes again. Let’s make a sweet crab cake that has just a little binder to keep it together.
I like to use jumbo lump crab when I can find it. Dungeness crab is available on the West Coast but not here in South Carolina. If you can get this really fresh crab meat from your local fish market, use it by all means. The texture and taste of canned does not compare. Fresh is what you need. Pictured below is some beautiful lump crab I purchased in Beaufort at the Sea Eagle Market.
Just in case you’re thinking about catching your own, it can be a lot of fun. According to the SC Department of Natural Resouces, crabs can be caught all year, but the best time of the year to catch large, heavy crabs is usually from October through December. Just remember that any measuring smaller than 5 inches must be returned to the rivers and creeks.
How to do it
Always look through the crab meat to be sure there are no shells or cartilage in it. Simply pick it out and toss it away. Just look over it carefully and be sure it is free of any shell. Once I’ve gone through it I like to store mine in a bowl over ice in the refrigerator, keeping it nice and cold.
What are the best ingredients?
You don’t really need to add any herbs but I always like to chop up some chives very fine. I use about 2 tablespoons for 1 pound of crab, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire for depth of flavor and 1/2 cup mayonnaise, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
The mayonnaise has egg in it that helps to bind the crab cake together. It makes a light and delicate crab cake.
My dry ingredients include 1 cup of oyster crackers and a little Old Bay. Sprinkle over crumbs and gently fold the mixture together. Prepare a pan with parchment paper.
How to prevent them from falling apart while cooking.
Use an ice cream scoop to measure out about 1/3 cup of mixture per crab cake. Then gently press down on them until they are flattened. Next refrigerate about 20 minutes to firm up. This gives your crackers a chance to absorb some of the moisture. These will not fall apart while frying now that they have been in the refrigerator.
Prepare a cast iron skillet with a little oil and butter. The butter gives it great flavor and the oil prevents the butter from burning.
Cook 2 -3 minutes per side until nicely browned. Gently flip with a flexible spatula and cook the other side 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet while you finish cooking the rest. Never crowd the pan!
Garnish with some chives and a squeeze of lemon. Serve with a little side salad.
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus more for serving
1 cup oyster crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh chives
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
2 tablespoons safflower oil
2 tablespoons butter
A little lemon juice just before serving
lemon wedges for serving and a few chives
Mi all the wet ingredients together first, then gently fold in the dry ingredients. Finally, fold in the lump crabmeat being extremely careful not to break up those delicious lumps.
Use a well-seasoned cast iron skillet for cooking. Squeeze on a little lemon just before serving!
Sprinkle chives on top for garnish.