Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli
The best crab cakes are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and bursting with fresh seafood flavor. Too many versions lean heavily on fillers, but these plump cakes are loaded with sweet crabmeat, with just enough additional ingredients to flavor and bind them, ensuring that the crustacean remains the star.
For the lemon aioli:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the crab cakes:
- 1 lb. fresh-cooked lump crabmeat
- 3/4 cup panko or other dried bread crumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- Lemon wedges for serving
To make the aioli, in a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside 1/4 cup of the aioli. Cover and refrigerate the remaining aioli until serving.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. To make the crab cakes, pick over the crabmeat for shell shards and cartilage. In a bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of the panko, the reserved 1/4 cup aioli, the egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and parsley. Add the crabmeat and mix gently until combined. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and shape each portion into a thick cake. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup panko in a shallow dish. Coat the cakes evenly with the panko, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the cakes and cook until the undersides are golden brown, 2–3 minutes. Flip the cakes and cook until the other sides are golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Using a slotted spatula, transfer to paper towels to drain briefly.
Serve the crab cakes at once with the lemon wedges and pass the remaining lemon aioli on the side. Serves 4.
Variation: Instead of the aioli, serve the crab cakes with homemade mayonnaise (see recipe at left) or a simple lemon vinaigrette. Or, make a creamy green goddess dressing: Whisk together 1 cup mayonnaise; 1 Tbs. each minced fresh tarragon, chives and parsley; 1 tsp. anchovy paste; 1 tsp. Dijon mustard and the grated zest of 1 lemon.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009).