You've heard the cautionary warning, "Never try out a new recipe on guests." Well don't believe it. This week a new recipe and technique worked out just fine... even after the cook sipped a Vieux Carre' or two during the cooking. Several crab cakes topped each plate of fresh kale salad for a first course at our recent "Southern" dinner, and they were a hit.
Crab cakes are nothing new in my galley, we enjoy them frequently during the five months we cruise in the Pacific Northwest. The piquant remoulade sauce did bring a new flavor via its homemade mayonnaise base, but I frequently incorporate a sauce into my crab mixture. The big difference? these cakes were oven-baked on a buttered cooking sheet instead of being pan-fried in butter. I know, I know, I've lectured away about the need to fry these little cuties (see this link), but I have changed my tune. Baking really worked. The crust was crispy, more evenly browned, and the cakes were less likely to crumble when turned. No more need to tend a pan and dodge the splatters, no worries about timing... so what's not to like?
I'll continue to tweak my crab cake mixture, and I'll experiment with different sauces, but now I'm a convert to oven baking.
Greg Atkinson has become my latest culinary hero for inspiring this recipe with his 1997 book, In Season: Culinary Adventures of a San Juan Island Chef.
Fresh Crab Cakes with Piquant Remoulade Sauce
1/4 cup remoulade (recipe below)
1 bunch green onion, white and green portions, small dice
1/4 cup celery, small dice
1 egg white (from the coddled egg used in the Remoulade sauce)
1 cup panko or a shredded parmesan/bread crumb blend
1 pound fresh crabmeat, carefully picked over for shells and cartilidge
Salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare remoulade.
- Preheat oven to 425 F and butter a sheet pan.
- Use a knife or a food processor to finely dice onion and celery.
- Add the egg white and panko to the diced vegetables, and mix until well combined.
- Carefully stir in 1/4 cup remoulade and crabmeat and mix gently.
- Shape into small cakes, 6 to 8 luncheon-sized or 12-15 thin, appetizer-sized. Cover with plastic and chill for 30+ minutes to firm.
- Bake on buttered pan for 10 minutes, turn over and cook for 3-4 additional minutes to crisp up the second side.
(makes about 1 1/2 cups)
1 egg, separated
1 tablespoon vinegar (I used white balsamic)
1/4 cup onion, small dice
1/4 cup celery, small dice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard (I like Plochmans)
1 teaspoon prepared creamy horseradish
2 teaspoons sugar
5 or 6 dashes of a hot pepper sauce (Cajun Sunshine is my favorite, Tabasco works too)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice (I added 1/8 teaspoon tarragon as well)
1 cup vegetable oil
- Cover a whole, fresh egg with boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove, crack egg and separate the white and the yolk. Put the white aside to use in the crab cake mixture.
- Whisk together the coddled egg yolk and vinegar and set aside.
- Combine the onion, celery, garlic, mustard, horseradish, sugar, hot pepper sauce, salt, pepper, allspice and tarragon in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until smooth.
- Add the egg yolk/vinegar mixture and process again until smooth.
- With the motor running, add a few drops of oil and, when oil is well incorporated, add another few drops. Slowly, very slowly add the remaining oil in a very thin stream, allowing oil to become gradually and thoroughly combined with other ingredients until a heavy mayonnaiselike sauce results.
- Transfer to a clean jar and store, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks. Serve with seafood... or just eat it with a spoon, it's that good!