How to Make Perfect Crab Cakes
New England is famous for our decadent crab cakes. The best time to make these savory cakes is from June to August when blue crabs are in season. A classic New England crab cake is made with large chunks of savory blue crab with a light cake-y batter that just barely holds it together.
Simple as it may seem, making the perfect crab cake can be a challenge. They can easily turn out too heavy, tough or dry. Here are a few secrets from our kitchen to help you make the best crab cakes at home:
– For the richest tasting crab cakes that aren’t weighed down with a heavy batter, avoid recipes with flour. Instead, look for recipes that use either panko breadcrumbs or a liquid binder like sour cream or mayonnaise to hold the cakes together.
– Splurge on fresh, high quality jumbo lump blue crab for the best taste and texture.
– Gently remove the shells so that you have large chunks of meat.
– If you’re having trouble removing the shells, place the crabs in the oven on Broil for 20 seconds (but no longer!) so they turn white. When you get them out, the shells will be easier to break off.
– To avoid giving them a tough texture, don’t over work the batter! Lightly mix the crab meat with the other ingredients. Gently shape the mixture into small biscuits or patties. Don’t worry if your cakes aren’t the exact same size or shape. The more you handle the batter, the tougher your crab cakes will be when they cook.
– If you want each one to be the exact same shape and size, use deep cookie cutters as molds (2 ½ inches by 1 inch is the ideal size).
– Crab cakes made with a mayonnaise or sour cream binder will maintain their shape better if you leave them in the cookie cutter mold in the pan as they cook.
– Crab cakes made with panko breadcrumbs are best if you let the mixture rest for an hour. This time allows the breadcrumbs to absorb moisture from the meat for the best texture and flavor. It will also help them retain their shape when they cook.
– Whether you use breadcrumbs or a liquid binder, cook them in a well-seasoned iron skillet on medium. You can cook them without oil or with a little butter in the pan for flavor.
– You’ll want to cook each side for three to four minutes so that both are nicely seared.
– If you cook them in a mold, you should see bubbling around the bottom when they’re ready to flip.
– Crab cakes taste best when they are served right away. It is usually best to make them right before you plan to serve them. If you are making crab cakes for a large party or cannot serve them immediately, you can place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and re-heat them in the oven.
If you follow these simple tips, you will be able to make restaurant quality crab cakes at home. Stop by our seafood counter in Wethersfield to pick up the best blue crabs in Connecticut!