09 Nov2005

On Halloween, a box containing 5 kilos of fantastic Culion Island, Palawan crabs arrived at our home. acra1This was definitely a treat. Mangrove harvested (as opposed to being raised in ponds and fed stuff I wouldn’t approve of) and super fresh despite the day long transit on an Aboitiz Superferry, I was concerned how I should use this crustacean bounty. The crabs were smaller than usual (I have received 1-2 kilo giants from the same island) but the meat sweet and delicious. Being Halloween, scaring up 5-6 dinner guests on a moments notice to enjoy simple steamed crabs or chilli crabs was nearly impossible. So I decided to indulge and make two dishes I normally consider highly extravagant and eat them all ourselves… and which take me back to the wonderful crab houses/restaurants in Baltimore, Maryland. First up, crab cakes…

The five kilos of crab were cleaned and steamed until bright orange and the meat just cooked. acra2After a few minutes of cooling the crab, four people started removing as much of the meat as possible. This is an unbelievably labor intensive activity and a royal pain in the rear – I only have this dish when someone else is going to extract the crab meat for me! Five kilos of whole crabs yielded just 1 kilo of cooked crab meat. Of this, I decided to use just over half on some crab cakes. To make, start with about 1 pound or half a kilo of lump white crab meat. Frankly, I used dark meat as well and because the crabs were small, the meat wasn’t too big and “lumpy.” Make sure the cartilage and shells are removed so there are no nasty surprises when you bite into the crab cakes…

Mix together one large egg, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, some Dijon mustard, acra3some Worcestershire sauce if you like it, and chopped fresh parsley (didn’t have any that night). Add the cooked crab meat and mix gently, adding some ground pepper. Add 6-8 crumbled saltines or soda crackers if you like, others like to do this purely with crabmeat. Good breadcrumbs are a possible substitute, but use just 5-6 tablespoons. Add a pinch of old bay seasoning for added flavor. Form into small crab cakes and place on a plate and refrigerate. I made 7 crab cakes from the 1 pound of crab meat. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. This step is important to avoid the crab cakes breaking up when being fried. Heat up some vegetable oil so that the crab cakes are about 1/4th submerged when frying. Fry until just golden brown on both sides and drain on paper towels. Serve with a dill mayonnaise, lemons or a cocktail style tomato sauce with zing. I like to serve this with a small salad on the side. Count on one piece per normal diner, two for those with hearty appetites. These are misleadingly filling as they are solid crab meat and incredibly rich. Makes an excellent starter or a main course together with a nice soup. Average cost about PHP150 per crab cake… not counting the labor involved… no wonder you don’t find these on restaurant menus that often!



  1. rina says:

    hi mm, im lucky in this aspect, my dad exports canned crabmeat to the US and i used to get a couple of cans ever so often in the fridge (really premium stuff not the blah pasteurized cans in shelves). canned crabmeat has several grades: jumbo lump, super lump, regular and claw meat.

    ive been using panko (japanese breadcrumbs) when I make my crabcakes and they work out pretty well.

    Nov 9, 2005 | 11:59 am


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  3. molly says:

    hi rina are you based here in manila? wow you’re so lucky. do you know if i can buy those canned crabmeat your dad exports? where can i find them? thanks :-)

    Nov 9, 2005 | 12:24 pm

  4. Gigi says:

    hey, rina. i’d like to apply as your best friend! I wanna spring for some of ’em crabmeat!

    Nov 9, 2005 | 1:57 pm

  5. Marketman says:

    molly and Gigi, I think Rina is now based in Canada… I wouldn’t mind buying a few cans as well… is it as good as fresh???

    Nov 9, 2005 | 2:05 pm

  6. mojitodrinker says:

    let me join the bandwagon… i love crabmeat! where can we buy crabmeat??

    Nov 9, 2005 | 5:23 pm

  7. Barb says:

    Try the ‘Bumble Bee Fancy Lump Crabmeat’, it’s very good and not bad for canned crabmeat. One can cost about $4.00 (6 oz can)in my local grocer (beside the Tuna cans) but it’s cheaper if you buy it in Costco. Make sure you get the ‘fancy lump’ kind.

    Nov 9, 2005 | 7:24 pm

  8. fried-neurons says:

    Yum! I love crabcakes! Must try that recipe. I’ll just use dungeness crab instead.

    Strangely enough, I hate eating crab straight out of the shell.

    Nov 9, 2005 | 10:06 pm

  9. stefoodie says:

    on fresh jumbo lump crabmeat, canned — the best is the REFRIGERATED kind (with the expiration date and everything), not the ones that are shelf-stable (you don’t know how long it’s been sitting there!). it’s pricey but worth every single cent. a large can here is about $16. marketman, it IS as good as fresh (much better actually if you consider that you don’t have to do the shelling yourself.) ready to mix na kaagad with mayo and whathaveyou. i can make 6 nicely-sized crabcakes out of the $16 can, or when i feel like splurging, 4 crabcakes. Considering that in Baltimore a plate of 2 (count them ONE, TWO!) — with sides –3-inch diameter crabcakes will set you back $20 or so (last time i was there anyway), the $16 can is a bargain indeed.

    Nov 10, 2005 | 4:06 am

  10. lojet says:

    I had done this with fish cakes but I guess the principle is the same. In a large non stick frying pan sprayed with PAM, I add about 2 tbsp of oil and 2 tbsp of butter. When the butter melt, I pour most of the oil in a cup, leaving just a thin film in the pan. Then I gently lay the refrigerated patties and fry on very low heat until golden brown on each side. The patties are not soggy with oil,they are crusty on the outside and moist inside, the butter does not burn in the low heat. When frying the next batch, I just spoon some of the poured oil back into the pan.I use ritz crackers instead of saltine too. I have to emphasize the very low heat and minimal oil.

    Nov 10, 2005 | 9:09 am

  11. acidboy says:

    for the eb- luto ka na lang! :) it looks like nothing less than your own cooking will satisfy your denizens.

    Nov 10, 2005 | 10:17 am

  12. rina says:

    hi molly and gigi, yes as MM said, I am in Canada now and will have to contend with buying my own crabmeat since I cant get the freebies anymore (in the guise of quality control he he)

    its unfortunate that the company does not have an outlet in manila, i think its part of an agreement with the US importer. the product is shipped straight out in refrigerated containers, it is the premium kind that stefoodie mentions and it really is as good as fresh.

    Nov 10, 2005 | 3:23 pm

  13. Kai says:

    I hate the rare crab cakes served in some restaurants. Too floury and salty. Maybe I’ll give it a second chance by cooking them myself like this. But oh, the old bay seasoning again!

    Nov 11, 2005 | 10:11 am

  14. sha says:

    crab cakes in some restaurants are NOT real crabs… real crab cakes costs..

    just think of the labour MM just mentioned

    Nov 13, 2005 | 5:03 am

  15. edee says:

    hi marketman,

    We had this for dinner last Sunday and my husband loved it !
    Thanks again for sharing an easy and delish recipe :)

    …it’s delish even without the old bay, we don’t have it here….just used paprika and panko for the bread crumbs …..

    Dec 19, 2005 | 11:06 pm

  16. Marketman says:

    edee, glad it worked for you…I dread the day someone emails me and says I “poisoned” them…heeheehee.

    Dec 20, 2005 | 6:16 am

  17. dhayL says:

    I sooo love crabs so much, just the usual steam crabs served with white rice and lots of spicy vinegar on the side! YUMMY! But for years now I’ve been planning on making “crab cakes” at home, infact I have a few recipes at home, and now I have another version – “crab cakes a la MarketMan”. But the one thing that’s stopping me from making the crab cakes, is the fact that i have to pick the meat(not that it is labour intense) but it’s more of I don’t think I have enough power to stop myself from eating all the crab goodies while picking out the meat, therefore, I wouldn’t have any meat letf to make the actual recipe! :)

    Oh by the way MM, I just thought you might be interested, if ever you and the family are vacationing down Orlando, there is a restaurant called “Boston Lobster Feast”, you’re going to love it there. It’s a seafood buffet resto – they serve lobsters and yes they give you whole lobsters, not just the tail, they have shrimps, crabs, mussels, oysters, oh seafood galore I’ll tell you! It’s a bit pricey US$30/per person, but it’s all worth it!
    The next time we go back there, I would personally stay away with oysters, just because that was really my first time having oysters, I didn’t have a very pleasant experience with them if you know what I mean. hehehe.

    May 15, 2007 | 8:52 am

  18. Catherine says:

    Where can one buy Old Bay seasoning in Manila?

    Mar 19, 2009 | 1:08 pm


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