A Short History of the Crab Cake
First called crab patties or crab croquettes in the 19th century, crab cakes were another take on minced meat patties. Thanks to a plentiful supply, some North American pubs actually gave fresh crab away to patrons, prior to the Second World War. The crab cake was created out of necessity as a cheap hearty meal. Original recipes called for a mixture of bread crumbs or cornmeal, seasonings, eggs, and crab meat.
No longer a budget selection, unless you catch your own, crab is a premium menu choice, and crab cakes are commonly served in high end seafood restaurants. However, making your own crab cakes is surprisingly simple.
Basic Crab Cakes- A Simple and Adaptable Dish
The beauty of crab cakes is that the base recipe for this popular dish remains pretty much the same as all those years ago, making it a fun dish to experiment with.
You can just as easily create a rich, indulgent cake or a lighter dish, depending on what toppings you choose. Tartar sauce or a bearnaise sauce creates a rich, indulgent meal, while crab cakes topped with freshly chopped fruit salsa or microgreens makes a much lighter dish.
Crab cakes are also great any time of day. Have you ever tried Eggs Benedict atop a crisp, succulent crab cake? Replace the english muffin with a crispy, tender cake of fresh Dungeness or Red Rock crab, and you’ve just taken two classic dishes to a whole new level.
While crab cakes are best without too many fillers, they do well with small scallops, shrimp or even minced fish, if you’re a little short on fresh crab.
We scoured the web for a tried and true crab cakes recipe, so you can make them anytime, anywhere – no pub or restaurant required. Try making the easy recipe below, and play around with a variety of seasonings, sauces, sides, and toppings.
Best Crab Cake Recipe
Classic Crab Cakes
Serve these with aioli, fresh greens, fruit salsa, tartar sauce, and more.
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley, or tarragon
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
- 440 g fresh crab meat, chopped
- 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Preheat oven to 400 F
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk 1/3 cup of mayonnaise with egg, parsley, Dijon and Tabasco.
- Gently stir in crab just until combined. Scoop out 1 heaping tbsp crab mixture, roll in panko, and form into 1-in.-thick cake. Repeat with rest of mixture.
- Place cakes on baking sheet 1/2 in. apart. Lightly spray or brush tops with oil.
- Bake in centre of preheated oven for 10 to 12 min. Turn cakes over and continue baking until light golden, about 5 more min.
- Let stand on baking sheet for 5 min before removing to a large platter.
- To make the aioli, whisk together the remaining mayonnaise, lemon juice, and smoked paprika. Serve with lemon wedges alongside the crab cakes.
Get the full crab cake recipe from Chatelaine Magazine
Crab Cakes: Pairings and Toppings
Try pairing crab cakes with a white wine, like a pinot gris, the “white wine king of British Columbia.” This helpful guide from BC Wine Trends will help narrow down your selections if you’re looking for a new favourite. There’s also an excellent white sangria recipe which would bring a fresh tropical vibe to crab cakes topped with fruit salsa.
Tropical Salsa Recipe
- 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) finely diced papaya
- 1⁄3 cup (75 mL) finely diced ripe star fruit
- 2 tsp (10 mL) seeded and diced jalapeño pepper
- 1⁄2 tsp (2 mL) grated lime rind
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) lime juice
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and spoon over top
Get the full recipe from LCBO.com
Tartar Sauce Recipe
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup chopped dill pickles
- 1 teaspoon capers, chopped
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons chopped shallots
- 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 6 drops Tabasco sauce, or more to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and you’re done!
- For best flavour, chill before serving.
Get the full recipe from Simply Taste
Tips for the Best Ever Crab Cakes
- Pan fry for a crispy outer crust. Melt 1tbsp of butter or oil on medium heat, and add cakes just when the butter sizzles. Cook until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes).
- Add a sprinkle of mustard powder. Rather than adding heat, this brings out the flavour of the crab even more.
- Chill in the fridge for about an hour to let the crab cakes set.
- Crab Cakes can be made ahead of time and frozen. Just shape the patties, freeze on a lined baking tray, and transfer frozen cakes to a freezer bag or container.
Still have leftover crab? Lucky you! Take a look at some other great fresh crab recipes.
Before you go crabbing or fishing, be sure to check the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for any updated information on closures, or restrictions. To learn more about what BC’s coastal waters have to offer, take a look at our guide on BC shellfish.
Tired of crabbing on shore with a net and hip waders? Van Isle Marina in Sidney, BC has an extensive supply of new and pre-owned boats for sale – from motorboats to superyachts – to take you from low tide to the high seas. Take a look at our current selection of boats for sale or contact us to speak to our friendly and knowledgeable staff.