Crab Cakes

From Ad Hoc at Home, by Thomas Keller

Serves 6 as an appetizer or 4 as a main course


1-1/2 teaspoons (1/4 oz.) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons finely diced onion

2 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper

1 garlic clove

1-1/4 lb. lump and/or jumbo crabmeat, such as Dungeness or Maryland Blue crab, picked over for shells and cartilage

¼ cup Piment d’Espelette Aioli

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon Old Bay season, or to taste

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2-1/2 cups panko crumbs

1 large egg

Canola oil

Piquillo Pepper Vinaigrette


Position two oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350-degrees.


Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion and pepper.  Grate the garlic with a Microplane grater directly into the pan (or mince it and add it).  Cook, stirring often, until the onion and pepper are tender, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool completely.


Place the cleaned crabmeat in a fine mesh basket strainer and drain well.


In a large bowl, whisk the aioli with the Worcestshire, mustard, parsley, Old Bay, and lemon juice to combine well.  Stir in ½ cup of the panko crumbs and the onion mixture.  Gently fold in the crab.  Lightly whisk the egg in a small bowl, and gently fold it into the mixture.


Put the remaining 2 cups panko crumbs in a shallow bowl.  Divide the crab mixture into 12 equal portions [I used an ice cream scoop for this].  One portion at a time, gently shape the mixture into a ball (the mixture is very delicate because there is only a small amount of panko in it), roll gently in the panko to coat, and shape into a slightly flattened ball about 2” in diameter and 1” thick.  Add a bit more panko as needed to coat, and set on a plate.


Heat some (!) canola oil in each of two (!) large ovenproof frying pans over medium heat until it shimmers.  [I think I used about ¼ cup of oil in a very large pan that easily accommodated all of the crab cakes without crowding.  I found I needed more oil to cook the second side so I would remove them after cooking on the first side, add 2-3 tablespoons more oil, then return them to the pan].  If you don’t have two pans, cook the cakes in batches and transfer to a rack set over a baking sheet, then finish in the oven).  Add the cakes, pat down gently, still maintaining the rounded shape, and cook until golden brown on the first side, about 5 minutes.  With a spatula, gently turn each crab cake over and cook on the second side for another 5 minutes, or until golden brown.  Transfer the pans to the oven and cook for 2-3 minutes, to ensure that the crab cakes are hot throughout.


Line a small baking sheet with paper towels.  Transfer the crab cakes to the towels to briefly drain.  Arrange the crab cakes on a serving plate and serve the vinaigrette on the side.

Piment dEspelette Aioli


4 large egg yolks

2 cups garlic oil (see below)

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons kosher salt


Put the egg yolks in (if you want to make plain old mayonnaise substitute canola oil here and omit the chile powder)a food processor