Crab Cakes - the secret to making great crab cakes

From My Carolina Kitchen - makes 8 crab cakes

1 pound best quality lump crabmeat, picked over & cleaned, with all shell fragments removed

1 egg white, lightly beaten until just foamy but not stiff

1 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions, white part only (or finely chopped chives)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Several sprinkles of hot sauce to taste (I used Tabasco)  

Small, small dash of Worcestershire sauce, taking care not to overpower the delicate flavor of the crabmeat

Pinch of Old Bay crab boil seasoning

2 teaspoons kosher salt (divided)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons peanut oil

Lemon wedges

Place the cleaned crabmeat in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the foamy egg white over the crabmeat slowly, stopping occasionally to mix it through with your hands. When the crabmeat has absorbed the egg white and feels slightly sticky to the touch (about 30 seconds or so), dust the flour over the crabmeat, then sprinkle the chopped scallions, freshly ground black pepper, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay, and a scant teaspoon of salt evenly over the top of the crabmeat.

With clean hands, lift the crabmeat from the bottom of the bowl, turning over very gently with your hands to mix the ingredients, taking care not to over handle the crab. Separate into 8 equal portions and gently roll each between the flattened palms of your hands to form loose balls. Flatten slightly and transfer to a plate. Sprinkle both sides with the remaining teaspoon or less of salt, cover gently with wax paper, and refrigerate for at least one hour before cooking.

Line a baking sheet large enough to hold 8 crab cooked cakes with paper towels and set aside. Melt half of the butter and oil together in a heavy, 10” non-stick skillet, until the mixture is foamy and begins to brown. Cooking the crab cakes in two batches, carefully place 4 of the crab cakes in the hot fat not allowing them to touch and fry until a crust forms, turning only once, about 2 minutes per side.

A quick cook’s tip: A thin fish spatula is perfect for lifting and turning delicate cakes or fish to prevent them from falling apart. An essential and inexpensive tool if you cook a lot of seafood, which I do. 

Remove the crab cakes and drain on the prepared pan. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil to keep the crab cakes warm while you make the second batch. To prepare the pan for the second batch, carefully pour off the cooking fat from the first batch and discard, wipe out the pan, and return to the heat. Prepare the second batch of crab cakes using the remaining butter and oil. Serve hot with lemon wedges. 

 Adapted slightly from The Pat Conroy Cookbook – makes 8 cakes

 

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