In case you don’t have a reminder on your phone to remind you that today, March 9, is National Crab Day it’s not too late to celebrate. So I’m sharing my all-time favorite way to make crab cakes at home, but first, a little education on the six-legged sea creatures and what you need to know about the lingo used to describe crab meat.
CRAB 101–THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LUMP, SPECIAL, JUMBO AND MORE
COLOSSAL LUMP is the most expensive, not because it tastes better, but because it’s a unique part of the crab. Each crab has two muscles connecting their swimmer fins, and the ones harvested in one piece from large crab are called colossal.
JUMBO LUMP is the same thing as colossal, only smaller.
LUMP is the broken pieces of what would’ve been colossal or jumbo. All grades of lump crab meat are bright white, delicate and slightly sweet. The whole pieces (colossal and jumbo) can stand on their own and look impressive in a crab cocktail or on something as simple as a piece of crusty bread. The lump can be used for crab cakes, or any crab-inspired dish needing high-quality crab meat.
BLACKFIN is a combination of some smaller, broken lump as well as flakes from the body.
SPECIAL is flakes from the body only. Both blackfin and special are good for dips, chowders and sauces.
CLAW is … yea … from the claws. To each their own, but it’s not my favorite part. Mostly because it’s a pain in the ass to get it out!! But, it’s excellent meat and can be eaten on its own or added to any recipe.
WHAT”S THE BEST CANNED_CRAB FOR CRAB CAKES? Bottom line, you get what you pay for. I love Dungeness but for nearly $40 for 4 ounces (if not more), it’s a little on the spendy side for mixing—so I wouldn’t recommend using it for crab cakes unless you have an unlimited budget. This last time I used colossal crab meat—more expensive than some of the lesser-quality brands, but at $30 for 16 ounces, not a bank breaker.
FARMED VS. WILD-CAUGHT You can relax when it comes to the farmed vs. wild-caught seafood debate because all crab is wild-caught—there are no crab farms. However, whenever possible I recommend choosing a product from the U.S. And, if you’ve never had Dungeness, go out on a limb and buy some this year from one of the many fishermen working their butts off (and freezing them off too) to bring us landfolk such amazing goodness.
THE BEST CRAB CAKES
PREP TIME: 15 minutes | COOK TIME: 10 minutes
- 2 egg whites
- 2 TBS vegan mayonnaise
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 ½ tes Old Bay seasoning
- 2 stalks celery, chopped to make ⅓ cup
- 1 TBS garlic, chopped
- 2 TBS fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 lb crab meat
- ½ cup panko
- Olive oil for frying
Combine all ingredients except crab and panko, mix well. Gently fold in the crab being careful not to destroy the “lumps.” Next, divide into 6 equal parts and form patties, about 2 inches thick, coat with panko and set aside. Heat 3-4 TBS oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Gently place cakes into the oil, DO NOT OVER CROWD. Turn the heat down to medium and let cook for about 5 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5 minutes. Place cakes onto paper towels or newspaper or something to soak up any extra oil. Serve immediately with fresh lemon wedge and either tartar sauce or garlic aioli recipes for both on the blog now. Enjoy!
VEGAN TARTAR SAUCE
- 1 cup vegan mayo
- 1 TBS dill relish
- 1 TBS sweet relish
- 1 tsp onion
- 2 TBS lemon juice
Combine everything and that’s that. Refrigerate any leftovers.
- 5-6 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg yolk (yes, you have to use a yolk)
- 1 TBS vegan mayo
- ¾ cup EVOO
Place garlic and salt into blender and pulse until fine. Add egg yolk, mayo and lemon, and pulse on and off a few times. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil pulsing the entire time until a nice emulsion forms. And that’s it. Wicked good and guaranteed to keep the vampires at bay for days on end!