Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes: A Culinary Delight from Sea to Table

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Updated on January 12, 2024

Reviewed by Laura

Crab cakes, a coastal culinary classic, are a testament to the sea’s delectable treasures. Whether enjoyed as a savoury appetiser, a sandwich filling, or the star of a main course, crab cakes have secured their place in the hearts of seafood enthusiasts. From the shores of Maryland to the bustling kitchens of home cooks, crafting the perfect crab cake is a tradition that marries simplicity with sophistication. Crab cakes emerge as a shining star in the world of seafood cuisine, captivating palates with their delicate sweetness and harmonious blend of flavours.

Old Bay is a popular seasoning blend often used in seafood dishes, including crab cakes. A crab cake recipe labelled “Old Bay” typically includes this seasoning mix. Old Bay seasoning is known for its unique blend of herbs and spices. In this exploration of crab cakes, we will learn more about their origins, the artistry behind their creation, and the diverse ways these delectable morsels are prepared and enjoyed.

What Is Crab Cake?

Crab cakes
Crab cakes

A crab cake is a dish made with crab meat as the primary ingredient. The crab meat is often mixed with other ingredients to form a patty or cake, typically pan-fried or baked. The additional ingredients include breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, eggs, and various seasonings such as Old Bay seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and parsley. Adding Old Bay can give the crab cakes a unique and flavorful twist.

The goal is to create a mixture that holds together well enough to form a cake while allowing the sweet and delicate flavour of the crab to shine through. Crab cakes are popular in many coastal regions and are often served as appetisers, sandwiches, or main courses.

Different regions and individual recipes may vary regarding the ingredients and seasonings used. Still, a crab cake’s essence is combining crab meat with other elements to create a flavorful and satisfying dish.

What Is the Origin of Crab Cake?

The exact origin of crab cakes is still being determined, but they have a long history. They are associated with regions that have access to fresh crab. One theory suggests that crab cakes originated in the Chesapeake Bay area of the United States, where blue crabs are abundant. Old Bay seasoning in many crab cake recipes is closely tied to this region.

Crab cakes have become a culinary tradition in the southern United States, particularly in states like Maryland and Virginia. The preparation method varies, but it often involves a mixture of crab meat, breadcrumbs, and various seasonings.

Crab cakes have become popular in many coastal areas and seafood-loving communities, with different regions putting their spin on the dish. Crab cakes have become a beloved part of American seafood cuisine, Whether as a casual sandwich, an appetiser, or a more formal entree.

What Are the Ingredients in Old Bay Crab Cake Mix?

Crab Cake

While specific recipes may vary, Old Bay crab cake mix typically includes a blend of ingredients that complement and enhance the flavour of crab. Here’s a general idea of what you might find in Old Bay crab cake mix:

  1. Crab Meat: The star ingredient is, of course, crab meat. It can be a combination of lump crab meat and claw meat.
  2. Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs bind the crab cake mixture together and provide texture. They can be plain or seasoned.
  3. Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise adds moisture and helps hold the crab cakes together.
  4. Mustard: Dijon or another type of mustard is often included for flavour.
  5. Eggs: Eggs help the mixture stick together.
  6. Old Bay Seasoning: The signature blend that gives the crab cakes distinctive flavour. Old Bay seasoning typically includes a mix of celery salt, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, and other spices.
  7. Worcestershire Sauce: Adds depth and a savoury flavour to the crab cakes.
  8. Parsley: Chopped fresh parsley can be added for freshness and colour.
  9. Lemon Juice: Some recipes include lemon juice for a bright, citrusy flavour.

So, these are general ingredients, and the specific proportions and additional ingredients can vary from one recipe to another. If you have a particular Old Bay crab cake mix recipe in mind, I could provide more specific details!

What Is a Substitute for Old Bay Seasoning in Crab Cakes?

If you don’t have Old Bay seasoning or want a substitute, you can create your blend using common spices. Here’s a simple homemade Old Bay seasoning substitute:

Ingredients

  1. 1 tablespoon celery salt
  2. 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  3. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  4. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  5. 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  6. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  7. 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  8. 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Adjust the quantities to your taste preference, especially concerning the heat level from the cayenne pepper.

This homemade Old Bay substitute should work well in crab cake recipes. So, Old Bay has a unique flavour, so the goal is to capture its essence with this mix. Adjust the proportions as needed to suit your taste preferences.

What Are the Two Types of Crab Cakes?

While there are numerous variations and regional differences, there are two main types of crab cakes:

Maryland Style Crab Cakes

Maryland Style Crab Cakes

These are often considered classic or traditional crab cakes. They are characterised by a high percentage of lump crab meat, minimal filler, and a focus on showcasing the natural sweetness and flavour of the crab. The seasoning in Maryland-style crab cakes often includes Old Bay seasoning, and they are typically pan-fried until golden brown.

Chesapeake Bay Style Crab Cakes

Chesapeake Bay Style Crab Cakes

While similar to Maryland-style, Chesapeake Bay-style crab cakes may have a slightly different mix of ingredients. Some recipes in this style include a higher proportion of backfin crab meat, a combination of lump and special-grade crab meat. The seasoning can still have Old Bay, but other regional spices might be added.

These distinctions can be subtle, and different cooks and regions may have their interpretations. The choice between Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay styles often comes down to personal preference for the level of crab prominence and the specific flavour profile you enjoy in your crab cakes.

What Is the Best Option to Cook Crab Cakes?

Both frying and baking are common methods for cooking crab cakes, and the choice often depends on personal preference and dietary considerations.

Frying

There are pros and cons to this method of cooking, such as:

  1. Pros: Frying can produce a crispy exterior and a tender interior. The quick cooking time allows for a nice browning on the outside.
  2. Cons: Frying adds more oil and calories to the dish. It may also require more attention to prevent burning or uneven cooking.

Baking

There are pros and cons to this method of cooking, such as:

  1. Pros: Baking is a healthier cooking method as it requires less oil. It’s also a hands-off approach, allowing you to cook multiple cakes simultaneously without constant monitoring.
  2. Cons: Baked crab cakes may not develop the same crispiness on the outside as fried ones. However, some people prefer the lighter texture.

So, the “better” method depends on your taste preferences and dietary choices. If you enjoy a crispy exterior and don’t mind the extra calories, frying might be your preference. Baking could be the way to go if you prefer a lighter dish with less oil. You can also experiment with combining both methods, such as searing the cakes in a pan to achieve a crispy exterior and then finishing them in the oven for even cooking.

What Are the Best Dip and Sauce for Crab Cakes?

Crab cakes pair well with various dips and sauces that complement their flavours. Here are some popular options:

  1. Remoulade Sauce: A classic choice, remoulade is a tangy and creamy sauce typically made with mayonnaise, mustard, capers, pickles, and herbs. It adds a zesty kick to them.
  2. Tartar Sauce: Another classic option, tartar sauce is a creamy condiment made with mayonnaise, pickles, capers, and sometimes herbs. Its mild flavour complements the sweetness of the crab.
  3. Lemon Aioli: A simple yet flavorful choice, lemon aioli combines mayonnaise, garlic, and fresh lemon juice. The citrusy notes enhance the freshness of the crab.
  4. Sriracha Mayo: For those who enjoy a bit of heat, a sriracha mayo made with mayonnaise and sriracha sauce can add a spicy kick to your crab cakes.
  5. Cilantro-Lime Sauce: A refreshing option, cilantro-lime sauce combines fresh cilantro, lime juice, mayonnaise, and a touch of garlic. It adds brightness to the dish.
  6. Avocado Salsa: If you prefer a lighter option, an avocado salsa with diced avocado, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice can provide a fresh and vibrant accompaniment.
  7. Garlic Herb Butter: Melted garlic herb butter is rich and indulgent. It adds a luxurious flavour that complements the sweetness of the crab.

Feel free to experiment with these options and adjust the ingredients to suit your preferences. Many enjoy a squeeze of fresh lemon over their cakes for a burst of citrus flavour.

What Is the Most Delicious Recipe for Crab Cake Dip?

Here’s a simple and delicious recipe for a crab cake dip:

Creamy Crab Cake Dip

Crab Cake Dip

This is a simple and delicious type of dip and also easy to make at home; here is how to do it:

Ingredients

  1. 8 oz (about 1 cup) lump crab meat, drained
  2. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  3. 1/2 cup sour cream
  4. 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  5. 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  6. 1 clove garlic, minced
  7. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  8. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  9. 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (adjust to taste)
  10. Salt and pepper to taste
  11. Fresh lemon juice (optional, for a hint of citrus)

Instructions

  1. Combine the lump crab meat, mayonnaise, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, green onions, minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, Old Bay seasoning, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix gently until well mixed.
  2. Put the mixture in a baking dish, spreading it evenly.
  3. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the edges are bubbly and the top is golden brown in the Preheated oven of 375°F (190°C).
  4. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
  5. Optionally, squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top just before serving for a burst of citrus flavour.
  6. Serve with crackers, baguette slices, or vegetable sticks.

Feel free to change the ingredients and seasonings based on your preferences. This creamy crab cake dip will be a hit at parties or gatherings!

What Are the Best Recipes for Crab Cake Sauce?

Here’s a classic and tasty recipe for a crab cake sauce:

Classic Crab Cake Sauce

This sauce is a classic when it comes to crab cakes dip; here is how to do it at home in an easy way:

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  2. 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  3. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  4. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  5. 1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
  6. 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  8. Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Whisk together mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce (if using), and Old Bay seasoning.
  2. Taste the sauce, then add the seasoning with salt and pepper according to your preference. The Old Bay seasoning adds a lot of flavour, so be sure to taste before adding too much salt.
  3. If you like a bit of heat, add more hot sauce.
  4. Once well combined, refrigerate the sauce for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to meld.
  5. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley before serving.

This sauce pairs wonderfully with crab cakes, adding a zesty and savoury kick. Experiment with additional herbs or spices for your twist!

Lemon Garlic Aioli

Lemon Garlic Aioli

This is a simple and delicious type of sauce; here is how to do it at home in an easy way:

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  2. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  4. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  5. 1 teaspoon honey
  6. Salt, pepper and chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. Combine mayonnaise, minced garlic, fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and honey in a bowl.
  2. Mix the ingredients thoroughly until well combined.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the quantities based on your preferences.
  4. Refrigerate the aioli for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to meld.
  5. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

This lemon garlic aioli provides a bright and tangy flavour that complements the sweetness of crab cakes. It’s a versatile sauce that can be used for dipping or drizzling over the crab cakes.

Cilantro Lime Sauce

Cilantro Lime Sauce

This sauce is delicious and easy to prepare; here is how to prepare it at home easily:

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  2. 1/4 cup sour cream
  3. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  5. 1 teaspoon lime zest
  6. 1 clove garlic, minced
  7. Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, chopped cilantro, fresh lime juice, zest, and garlic in a bowl.
  2. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Adjust the quantities based on your preferences.
  3. Refrigerate the sauce for 30 minutes or more before serving.
  4. Serve the cilantro lime sauce with your cakes for a vibrant and citrusy twist.

This sauce provides a fresh and herby contrast to the crab cakes.

From the Chesapeake Bay to global kitchens, the allure of crab cakes lies in the richness of the crab meat and the creativity each cook brings to the recipe. As we savour the culinary journey from sea to table, it becomes evident that crab cakes are more than a dish; they celebrate coastal heritage, a union of tradition and innovation that continues to captivate taste buds and bring people together around the communal joy of good food. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a seafood enthusiast, the crab cake remains an emblem of culinary excellence, inviting us to indulge in the ocean’s simple pleasures.

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