I've had a hankering for some crab cakes for a few weeks now. An old friend of mine has a fishing camp on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, and routinely pulls crabs from the lake. Ever since he posted a picture of some homemade crab cakes on his Facebook page a little while back, I've been wanting to make some of my own. Of course, my crabmeat comes from a can, but you have to work with what you've got. If you can spring for the jumbo lump, more power to ya, but I generally buy the backfin. Just please, for the love of god, don't use crab sticks. That's not crab at all, and is an abomination in the eyes of Poseidon, Lord of the Sea.
I made these with a parsley and horseradish aioli, served alongside some pan roasted baby 'taters and some asparagus spears. I paired it all with a 2011 Latour Pouilly-Fuisse (review forthcoming).
1 lb of crabmeat, whatever grade you can afford, picked clean of shells
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tsp Old Bay Seasoning
4 pea sized blobs of Harissa paste (hot)
1/4 Tsp fresh minced garlic
a few turns fresh ground black pepper
1 cup saltines, crumbled fine
Whisk the mayo, egg, Old Bay, Harissa, and garlic together. Add the crabmeat, and gently incorporate the wet ingredients, being careful to do as little damage to the nuggets of crab as possible. The larger the pieces of crabmeat the better. When everything is coated and damp, tighten the mixture up by adding the crumbled saltines a little bit at a time. Form into patties of desired size. I like them to be about an inch thick, and the size of a beer can lid. Cover and refrigerate.
Parsley and Horseradish Aioli
1 1/2 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh curly parsley
2 Tbs finely mince yellow onion (sweet if possible), or shallots
1 Tbs prepared Horseradish
1 cup olive oil and vegetable oil mixture (I like a 1:2 ratio, but feel free to get creative)
White and Black pepper and salt, to taste
Method of production is standard for emulsified sauces: combine egg, Dijon, horsey, parsley and onion, and mix well with immersion blender. While blender is going, slowly add oil in a thin stream from a spouted measuring cup. Keep the blender going, circling around the bowl, until ingredients are emulsified. Check flavor, and adjust seasoning with salt and peppers. Cover and refrigerate until service.
Steam asparagus spears as normal. I don't need to spell that one out for you, do I? Take baby potatoes and peel a strip of skin away from them around the center. Get a cast iron skillet on high heat, and fry potatoes in a mixture of whole butter and olive oil. Season generously with S&P, and place in a 400F oven for 20 minutes. (Periodically, remove the skillet, give the pan a few rotations, flipping the 'taters, and return to oven). Upon removal, throw in a generous handful of chopped parsley, and a little squirt of lemon juice.
Make a mixture of 1 cup crumbled crackers and 1/2 cup white flour, and season with either Tony Chachere's or Old Bay, depending on your regional preference. You could use Chef Paul's if you want to rock it OG style, or Emerils Essence if you watch a lot of TV. Whatever, they're your crab cakes.
The crab cakes will be slightly damp, so there's no need to dip them in egg wash. Just gently roll them in the dry cracker/flour mix, and send them immediately to a hot skillet with a mixture of butter and olive oil in it. Don't overload the pan. Sauté until beautifully golden brown on each side, flipping only once. Try and time everything right, and have your 'taters, asparagus and crab cakes ready for plate up all at the same time. Top crab cakes with a healthy dollop of the Aioli. Serve, preferably with a lovely white wine.