Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Chile-Spiced Crab Cakes with Citrus Aioli

Homemade crab cakes are always guest-pleasers, and they come together quickly and easily without too many ingredients. You don’t need to purchase expensive jumbo lump crabmeat to make cakes—save that for bite-sized appetizers that highlight the presentation of the crab. Claw meat is less expensive and you can make cakes with it, but you’ll need to shred large, intact pieces.

I like using shredded, white, backfin crabmeat for cakes. It’s already just the right consistency to mix with other ingredients, and it has great crab flavor (comes from the back of the crab's body, like lump meat). Look for shredded backfin in the refrigerated section of the market—not the tuna aisle.

Shredded, White, Backfin Crabmeat
For this recipe, I made a garlicky mayonnaise-based sauce with fresh lemon and orange for cool, creamy, citrusy flavor and texture. It’s a tasty complement to the meaty richness of the crab cakes.

Tip: The “zest” of the lemon and orange is the colorful outer peel—not the white pith beneath it. Use a vegetable peeler to lightly remove small strips of zest from the fruit, then simply give it a fine chop.

Use a Vegetable Peeler to Peel Zest 
Finely Chop the Zest
Makes 8 crab cakes


For the Aioli
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp finely chopped lemon zest
  • 1 tsp finely chopped orange zest
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Crab Cakes
  • 1 lb shredded, white crabmeat, picked over for shell
  • 1/2 cup panko or other fine, dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 small serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

For the Aioli
  1. Place the garlic clove on a cutting board and sprinkle with salt. Finely chop the garlic and salt together and place in a bowl.
  2. Stir in the mayonnaise and next 5 ingredients (through mustard) and season with black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (May be made a few hours ahead.)
Smashed Garlic with Salt
Chopped Garlic and Salt
Citrus Aioli
For the Crab Cakes
  1. Combine the first 8 ingredients (through chile powder) in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and form each into a patty about 3/4-inch thick. Place on a plate, cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. (May be made a few hours ahead.)
  3. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter, swirling to combine. Add the crab cakes and cook until golden brown and just cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side.
Crabmeat Ready for Other Ingredients
Ingredients Ready to Mix
Divide into 8 Portions 
Crab Cake Patties
Crab Cakes Beginning to Cook 
Cakes after Turning
Plate the crab cakes and spoon a dollop of citrus aioli on top of each, or serve the aioli in a bowl alongside.

Chile-Spiced Crab Cakes with Citrus Aioli

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