World’s Best Crab Cakes, Once Removed

UPDATE: On 4/7/18, this recipe was updated for better results.

My favorite crab cake in the whole world is was served at Cafe Atlantico in DC (rest in peace). I compare every crab cake I eat to it, and none match up. Except for this one. Cafe Atlantico’s crab cake is was very tiny and served with a refreshing green salad and grapefruit segments. The crab cake is citrusy, mustardy, and incredibly moist with a crispy sear on the outside. I set out to emulate it, and I think I succeeded. Big success!

Using both dijon and whole grain mustards are key because the dijon is strong and spicy while the whole grain mustard is mild, but its grains let you know what flavor to expect. And lemon is important to provide a citrusy, refreshing zip.

In a medium sized bowl, stir together 1 egg white, 1.5 tablespoons of mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of grain mustard, the zest from half a lemon, and ground black pepper. Then, stir in 3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs. These ingredients are important to help bind your crab cakes, but they shouldn’t be noticeable in the finished product. I don’t find it necessary to add salt, because the mustards and crab itself tend to have enough.

Add 16 ounces of jumbo lump crab meat into the bowl, and very gently fold everything together with a rubber spatula. If a crab cake doesn’t have big lumps of meat in it, it’s not worth eating. This recipe should yield 10 medium-sized crab cakes.

Stella’s nose was going wild. It’s amazing how fragrant the crab mixture is! You can either proceed to cook your crab cakes, or you can cover the mixture with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors infuse.

When you’re ready to cook the crab cakes, heat some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. I really love pan-seared crab cakes because they get a toasty crust but remain very moist on the inside. My mom made delicious crab cakes this way, but she stopped doing it because she didn’t like that the oil splatters. The oil does splatter a little bit, but the taste is worth the clean up!

Once the olive oil is hot, shape some of the crabmeat mixture into a patty using your hands. I found that the crab cakes stay together best if you really compress them and then place them in the pan. Once they are brown (about 2 minutes), flip them over carefully using a spatula. Don’t press down on the crab cakes with the spatula while they are cooking or else your patties will break and lumps of crabmeat will scatter. Remove your crab cakes from the pan and set them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil.

Before serving, generously drizzle the crab cakes with lemon juice. Then, enjoy breaking through their crispy exteriors to pull lumps of meat out of the moist centers. I’m ready for another serving- this is the summer of the crab, after all!

Shopping list:

  • Jumbo lump crab meat- 16 ounces
  • Egg white- 1
  • Mayo- 1.5 tablespoons
  • Dijon mustard- 1 tablespoon
  • Whole grain mustard- 2 tablespoons
  • Lemon- 1
  • Breadcrumbs- 3 tablespoons
  • Black pepper
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