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Dungeness Crab Cakes with Cabbage Slaw

The Dungeness crab, which lives along the western shores of the United States, is prized for the particularly delicate, sweet flavor of its meat. If Dungeness crabmeat is unavailable, look for the meat of king crab or blue crab. If possible, always buy freshly cooked crabmeat for its superior taste. 

Ingredients:

For the crab cakes: 

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise 
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper 
  • 1 celery stalk, finely minced 
  • 2 green onions, white and light green portions, finely minced 
  • 1 lb. cooked Dungeness crabmeat, picked over to remove any shell fragments 
  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs 
  •   

For the cabbage slaw: 

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk  
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise 
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh dill 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 4 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage 
  • 3 carrots, grated  
  • 2 green onions, white and light green portions, minced 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste 

  • 4 tsp. unsalted butter 
  • 4 tsp. olive oil 
  • 4 lemon wedges 

Directions:

To make the crab cakes, in a bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir in the celery and green onions. Gently fold in the crabmeat and half of the bread crumbs. Spread the remaining bread crumbs on a sheet of waxed paper. Shape the crab mixture into 8 patties, each 1 inch thick. They will only reluctantly hold together; do not overwork them. Place each cake in the bread crumbs and turn to coat evenly. Arrange the cakes on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the slaw: In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, dill and garlic. In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, carrots and green onions. Add the dressing and toss well. Season with salt and black pepper and toss again. Taste and add as much lemon juice as desired.

To cook the crab cakes, heat 2 large fry pans over medium heat. In each pan, melt 2 tsp. of the butter with 2 tsp. of the olive oil. Place 4 crab cakes in each pan and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the crab cakes over and cook until they are well browned on the other side and hot throughout, 3 to 4 minutes more.

Transfer the crab cakes to individual plates and serve immediately with the lemon wedges and the slaw. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).