April is flying by and my opportunities to continue to entice you with recipes from Lori Longbotham’s Lemon Zest are quickly coming to an end. If April had 100 days I could easily fill each one with a recipe from Lori’s book. It’s that good. And you know Cream Puff would never lie to you!
Over the weekend, I decided to try a main course dish from the book. Initially I thought of trying one of the many inviting recipes for roast chicken, but let’s face it, I’m sure we all have our favourite roast chicken recipe. Instead I opted for something a bit different … a dish I have never prepared at home before: crab cakes.
I took advantage of the fact that my baking course is close to Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market, which is blessed with a number of quality fish purveyors. For my crab cakes, I chose Mike’s Fish Market. The people at Mike’s were very friendly and helpful, especially when they pointed out that they sell frozen lump crab meat in half and one-pound boxes. Excellent! I love Mike because he just made my life so much easier. One word of caution … please make sure that you’re buying real crabmeat, which is a beautiful thing.
Do not buy nasty imitation crabmeat. The only nice thing I can say about imitation crabmeat is … well … I don’t have anything nice to say about imitation crabmeat. Buy the good stuff. It will cost you a bit more but it’s worth it. You’re worth it!
I defrosted the crabmeat and once again silently sent blessings the way of Mike and his peeps as the crabmeat was clean without any bits of shell in it. That’s something you need to look out for when buying lump crabmeat.
As with all of Lori’s recipes, this one came together quickly. While the original recipe instructs you to bake the crab cakes, I thought I’d splurge a bit and fry them. I put the crab cakes in the refrigerator to firm up a bit so I could bread them relatively easily. Once breaded, I also let them sit for a bit so that the bread coating could dry out. That helps make the end product even crispier.
While the crab cakes were resting, I quickly threw together the tartar sauce. The original recipe requires tarragon, but I didn’t have any and I wasn’t going to use dried. Instead I just used some fresh parsley and made a mental note to try this recipe again when I can use fresh tarragon from my own garden. In under an hour, from start to finish, I had fried up a plate of beautiful crab cakes that tasted of … crab! But also of lemon and shallot and parsley.
Say it with me, people … fried food is good! Especially when it consists of good-quality crab and beautiful lemons.
Lemony Crab Cakes
Adapted from Lemon Zest by Lori Longbotham.
For the crab cakes:
- 3/4 cup Lemon Mayonnaise (recipe follows) or regular mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons coarse-grain Dijon mustard
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
- pinch of freshly ground pepper
- 2 pounds lump crabmeat (be sure to inspect the crabmeat and remove any shells or cartilage)
- Lemon-Parsley Tartar Sauce (recipe follows)
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 2 eggs, beaten
- vegetable oil for frying
- Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, egg, zest, shallot, parsley and pepper in a bowl until well combined. Add the crabmeat and mix gently until just combined.
- Gently form the crab mixture into eight 1-inch thick crab cakes. Once done, place the crab cakes in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, to firm up.
- Put the beaten eggs in one plate and the bread crumbs in another. Gently dip each crab cake in the beaten egg and then coat with the bread crumbs. Set aside.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Oil should come about half an inch up the side of the pan. Don’t fry all the crab cakes at once. Depending on the size of your pan, fry 2 or 3 at a time. The crab cakes will take about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Once fried, place the crab cakes on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Sprinkle with salt and a little paprika (if you like).
- Serve the crab cakes with the Lemon-Parsley Tartar Sauce
For the Lemon Mayonnaise:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons coarse-grain or regular Dijon mustard
- pinch of salt
- pinch of freshly ground pepper
- Mix together the mayonnaise, zest, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper until well combined. Keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
For the Lemon-Parsley Tartar Sauce:
- 1 cup Lemon Mayonnaise or regular mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cornichons, minced
- 9 brine-cured Mediterranean olives, pitted and chopped
- 2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped (original recipe calls for tarragon)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- hot red pepper sauce, to taste
- Whisk all ingredients together. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Tartar sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Note: The Lemony Crab Cakes serve 4. If you don’t want to fry the crab cakes, then as soon as you’ve formed them (do not coat them in breading), bake them in a preheated oven (400 degrees F) on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake the cakes for 15 to 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Let the crab cakes cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before plating them.