Why cook your own crab cakes? Crab cakes are a popular dish, especially along the East Coast. Made with Maryland blue crab, these crab cakes have set the standard of what a real crab cake should be. The Dungeness crabs off the coast of California also make excellent crab cakes. By making your own, you control the quality of the crabmeat being used, the amount being put into each crab cake, and your cooking method. If you go out and eat crab cakes at a restaurant, you are at the mercy of their preferred recipe and cooking methods.
How to Cook Crab Cakes
The ideal crab cake is full of moist chunks of white crab meat, delicately held together with a light filler of crumbs and herbs. The outside is crisp, which plays nicely against the creamy crabmeat in the center. You can make them small for appetizers or make them large enough to be an entrée. Either way, crab cakes have the potential to be a truly great dish.
What Crab Meat is Best?
Ideally, you want to use lump crabmeat in your crab cakes. These are pieces of meat from the body cavity of the crab. Snow white in color, they are sweet, tender and full of crab flavor. You can also use smaller flakes of crab from the body to help supplement the expensive lump meat, but if you want to make a truly impressive crab cake, this is what you want to use.
What Holds it Together?
Every crab cake will have at least a little binder in it. Binders and fillers are usually made from bread or cracker crumbs. Combined with some beaten egg, they help hold all that delicious lump crabmeat in place long enough for it to cook and be served on a plate. Some crab cakes are more filler than meat, which has given the dish a bad reputation to some people. When you make crab cakes yourself, you can control the amount of binder in them so all you get is the flavor of the crab.
Sauté or Bake?
Among crab cake connoisseurs, this can be a controversial topic. While baking is a healthier choice in many people’s eyes, it just does not caramelize the outer crust of the crab cakes as well as sautéing does. Baking can also dry out the crab cakes more than pan-frying. It is up to you whether you want to add the extra calories that frying will give you. Broiling is another option, but again, the crust just does not get as crisp as it does in a pan. While the crab cake will taste good, it will not have that wonderful crisp crust that enhances the sweetness of the crab.
So, make your own crab cakes. Get some local Dungeness crab from an LA seafood market and start cooking. Many markets will sell you lump meat that has already been picked from the shell. No matter where you get it from, it is always a good idea to pick through it again to make sure no tiny shell fragments stuck to the meat.
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