My mom was highly allergic to seafood – yup, you read that right. Fish of all kinds! My poor mom couldn’t even open a can of tuna fish without breaking out with some kind of allergic reaction. So, needless to say we never had seafood in our house when I was growing up.
Being part of an Italian family, we would have the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. This would include different fishes such as cod filets, linguine with clams, fried scallops, fried clams, fried shrimp, fried calamari, and others as well. We would also have other dishes since my mom couldn’t have any of the fish. One thing we never really had was crab cakes. I had them on occasion at restaurants here and there, but was never really a fan of them.
Then I went to Culinary School! One of my classes was a restaurant class where we learned the front and back of the house and operated an actual restaurant at the school. One night in class I was tasked with the crab cake appetizer. I prepared the crab cakes and learned quite a bit as part of the preparation process. As a binder, the recipe calls for egg yolks, dijon mustard, and spices and then whisk in olive oil to create an emulsion. This forms a mayonnaise like consistency and will bind the crab cakes together. It also gives it a much better flavor instead of mayonnaise.
Once they were prepared and cooked, myself and my classmates tried them. They were actually the most incredible crab cakes I had ever tried in my life!!! Wow they were good. The flavor of the mustard and spices deliciously complimented the flavor of crab without being too overpowering.
My husband, unfortunately, is allergic to shellfish. So, I never made crab cakes at home since he would never be able to have them. We ended up hosting a holiday neighborhood gathering one year and I was tryingto think of a bunch of appetizers to make. I decided to make some mini crab cakes and they were a tremendous hit. Our friends went crazy over them. Some even asked to take some home!! I made them again for Christmas and my in-laws loved them! They couldn’t stop talking about how good they were. So, they are officially on the menu for parties and holidays! They were especially enjoyed this past Sunday for Father’s Day!
They are a bit of work, but so worth the effort!!! Enjoy!
For the binder
4 large egg yolks
2 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce
1/2 cup, plus 1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard (I recommend Grey Poupon)
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. celery seeds
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups olive oil
For the crab cakes
3 cups bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh parsley
1 cup onion, finely chopped
4 green bell peppers, finely chopped
4 red bell peppers, finely chopped
4 lbs. crab meat, drained and picked clean of shell
For the dredging
2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1) In a food processor or blender, combine egg yolks, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, mustard, paprika, thyme, celery seeds, and black pepper. Combine. With motor running, slowly add the olive oil until the mixture emulsifies and forms a mayonnaise like consistency. Set aside.
2) In a large bowl, combine the onions, bell peppers, bread crumbs, and parsley. Add the reserved mayonnaise and crabmeat. Gently mix to combine.
3) Form into patties and dredge in bread crumb and parsley mixture.
4) Place patties onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate at least 2-3 hours or overnight to help crab cakes hold their shape.
5) In a large skillet over medium heat (I use an electric skilet at 350 degrees F), add vegetable oil and allow oil to get hot. Sear the crab cakes in the oil and gently fry the crab cakes until they are hot throughout and golden brown on each side. Turn once (cook about 4 minutes on each side).
Recipe from the International Culinary School at the Art Institute, Las Vegas, Nevada