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Citrus Crabby Cakes

When combining the ingredients, handle the mixture gently, or you will be left with threads of crabmeat and no chunks. Cook them gently, too, to avoid overbrowning. The center needs to be just warm.

Ingredients:

For the crab cakes:

  • 1/2 lb. fresh-cooked crabmeat, picked over to remove any shell fragments
  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs 
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, purchased or homemade (see related recipe at left) 
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh chives 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  •   

For the citrus vinaigrette (optional): 

  • 2 Tbs. fresh orange juice 
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice 
  • 1 tsp. minced shallot 
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil  
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil  
  • 2 tsp. mixed chopped fresh herbs such as chives, flat-leaf parsley, tarragon and/or chervil, in any combination 
  •   
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter 
  • Watercress or butter lettuce leaves for serving 
  • 1 Meyer lemon, cut into wedges, for serving 

Directions:

In a bowl, combine the crabmeat, bread crumbs, mayonnaise and chives, and mix gently until the ingredients are evenly distributed, being careful not to break up the chunks of crabmeat. Season with salt and pepper. Shape into 6 equal cakes and place them on a plate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes or up to overnight to allow the breadcrumbs to absorb some of the juices.

To make the citrus vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the citrus juices, shallot, salt, and 1 or 2 grindings of pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Whisk in the olive oil and canola oil, then taste and adjust the seasoning.

Warm a sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the butter. When the butter is hot, add the crab cakes and cook until golden on the underside, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the cakes over and cook on the second side until golden, 3 to 4 minutes more, reducing the heat if needed to avoiding overcooking the exterior. Add the herbs to the citrus vinaigrette just before serving to retain their bright color.

Transfer the crab cakes to a platter, garnish with the watercress and lemon wedges, and drizzle the vinaigrette over the top. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Family Meals, by Maria Helm Sinskey (Oxmoor House, 2008).