Crab Cakes

Crab Cake
Mmm crab!  Sorry Maryland, keep your Blue Crabs and give me a Northwest Dungeness Crab any day of the week.  Those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest are a lucky bunch to have some of the freshest and most delicious seafood available to us anytime we want it.

Ballard Fisherman's Terminal
While bustling about town I found myself ending up in Ballard at the Fisherman’s Terminal.  The day was warm and bright and the perfumed scent of the briny sea filled your nostrils.  It was a perfect day to meander the docks and look at boats in the marina, some of them laden with crab pots and fishing tackle.

Highliner Pub Clam Chowder
All that wandering about made me a bit peckish so I stopped in at The Highliner Pub.  I ordered up a cold frothy beer with a cup of Clam Chowder and a heap of their homemade crispy french fries to stave off my hunger.  They are in a great location at the Fisherman’s Terminal and offer cheap beers with cheap pub eats.

The whole while I sat enjoying my meal, my mind was on the boxes of live Dungeness Crabs being unloaded over out front at Wild Salmon.  All the things that I could do with fresh crab… Crab Boil, Crab Louie, Crab and Butter, Crab Corn Chowder.  All these thoughts flitted in and right back out, the only one to stay cemented in my mind: Crab Cakes.

Now when I say Crab Cakes I am not talking about those bread crumb laden “Crab Cakes” where there is more cake than crab.  The kind of Crab Cakes I make are mostly crab, so you can actually see the delicate crab meat with just enough bread crumb and egg to hold it all together.  I also don’t “jazz it up” with a bunch of ridiculous ingredients, if you start with good quality, fresh crab meat you do not need to mess around with a list of ingredients as long as the Magnolia Bridge.  What I make is simple, it’s fresh and it showcases the crab meat the way it should.  The Crab is the star.  The fresh, delicious, sweet star of the show.

Dungeness Crab
So I headed over to Wild Salmon and picked out a couple fat Dungeness Crabs to go home with me and help me make up some of my Crab Cakes.  The folks who work there are really good to their customers.  I’ve been going there for over 10 years and I’ve never been treated badly.  Plus if fighting the crowds at Pike Place Market just isn’t your thing, this is a nice little spot hidden away from the bustle of downtown and there is some nice scenery just a couple steps away from the store front.

Wild Salmon Seafood
When I got home, the crabs got a dip in the kettle and when finished they got a good cleaning and picking to get as much of the meat as possible.  Now for some, especially the squeamish, this is pretty hardcore.  You can certainly pick up already cleaned crab meat and be ready to go with this recipe.  Do not use tinned crab meat,  in a recipe like this where the crab is the star, you will not do the recipe or the crab any justice.  Use fresh crab meat, the freshest you can get for the best results.

Crab Cakes

  • 1 lb of lump Crab Meat, fresh
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Bread Crumbs, plain
  • 1/2 cup Green Onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Red Bell Pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper, finely ground
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Mustard Powder

Additional 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs, Plain (set aside in a small bowl for dredging)
Couple pats of Butter (for frying)

Combine the first 8 ingredients in one large bowl.  Stir to mix the ingredients thoroughly .  Using your hands grab a small handful of the mixture and form a ball, then pat it down into a patty shape.  You can make them small appetizer size, or giant entree sized patties, it is up to you.

Place your dredging crumbs in a small bowl, and coat the flat sides of your patty in crumbs, set aside and get your pan ready.

Get a large skillet and melt a pat of butter in it over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, start adding your crab cakes in to the pan.  Do not overcrowd the pan, as doing so will result in a soggy greasy crab cake so give the cakes about 1 1/2″ inches between each other.  If you need to do this in a couple batches, feel free to add more butter to the pan to help in the browning process and prevent them from sticking.

Cook until the crab cakes turn golden brown, about 4-5 minutes on each side.  Very important, do not keep flipping the crab cakes.  Set them in the butter and resist temptation to flip them before they are golden brown on one side.  This will prevent the crab cakes from falling apart and ensure that they are cooked all the way through.

Cook’s Notes:
Since the size of the Crab Cake is up to you, you can make mini crab cakes as appetizers for a party.  You can also make “Slider sized” patties and make your own Crab Cake Sliders.
This recipe is great served with a side of Spicy Mayo, Remoulade or Tartar Sauce.

Full disclosure: I have received no compensation from The Fisherman’s Terminal, Wild Salmon Seafood, The Highliner Pub or any other organizations mentioned for this article.

Images by Kelly Cline ©2010 All Rights Reserved
All content, text and images are  ©2010 All Rights Reserved and may not be used or reposted without express written consent.

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4 Responses to Crab Cakes

  1. Once again some really gorgeous photographs! Loved that shot of that crab :-)

  2. Kelly says:

    Prerna, thank you so much! Yes, that is one of my favorites too. That guy did not end up in my Crab Cakes, but he was giving me the eye and the warning claw ;)

  3. Chef Gwen says:

    I agree… Dungeness crabs are the best. What I really like about your recipe is the paltry 1/2 cup of bread crumbs for a whole pound of crab…just enough to hold it together! Gorgeous photos, too.

  4. Kelly says:

    Thanks a ton Chef Gwen :) hahaha I love the use of the word “paltry” it perfectly describes the amount.

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