Cakes for Two

Crab cakes are an important part of my favorite brunch spreads and, when it comes to a good appetizer party, they top the list. But what if you are looking for enough to work for a nice meal for two? Most recipes make a lot and they don't really reheat well. So what's a crab cake lover to do?

Go ahead and make enough for two. After all, it means using less crab which just means you can afford to incorporate them into your plans more often! I prefer a crab cake that is definitively crisp on the outside and tender and creamy on the inside. And there's a secret to both of those characteristics!

The crispness happens as a result of panko, a Japanese breadcrumb known for its light and flaky texture. That great texture allows it to crisp beautifully when it's cooked, especially when pan frying in canola oil, as we're doing here. The crumbs incorporated into the center of each crab cake stay moist and tender because they don't get direct contact with the hot oil, but those on the edge get to become a golden, crisp crust for the finished product.

Keeping the interior of the crab cakes creamy and moist isn't too much of a challenge, but I like giving them a flavor boost as well. That's accomplished with shredded sharp cheese. I use cheddar in this recipe because my family loves it, but parmesan, asiago, or any other strongly-flavored cheese will work here. Think of it as a way to help increase the creaminess, cohesiveness, and flavor all in one simple ingredient. What's not to love?

Crab Cakes with Cucumber Relish

  • 8 oz. lump crabmeat, picked through, shells removed (canned, drained lump crabmeat will also work)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red or yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning or other seafood seasoning
  • ¼ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • ⅓ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons canola oil
  • Sour cream, for serving

Combine the crabmeat, chopped onion, parsley, mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and seafood seasoning to form a wet mixture. Add the shredded cheddar, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs, and egg; mix together gently but thoroughly.

Shape the crab cake mixture into patties using an ice cream scoop to help measure and form the mixture. Cover the cakes with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour to help them maintain their shape.

While the crab cakes are chilling, prepare the cucumber relish by combining the cucumber, green onions, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Add the canola oil to a large skillet over medium heat; heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Add the crab cakes and cook until golden on both sides and cooked through to center, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve the crab cakes topped with the cucumber relish and a dollop of sour cream.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes plus one hour chilling