19 Oct2007

Crab Cakes, Revisited

by Marketman

This post was first published nearly two years ago. I revisit it today because I think crab cakes are a brilliant choice for celebratory or special holiday dinners. They are rich, extravagant, and yet totally doable with local ingredients. While they are relatively expensive, a little goes a very long way. And you can do these almost all in advance except for the final fry. Serve this with a green salad with a light vinaigrette dressing and it is a brilliant starter or main course for lunch.

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. zena says:

    I have always wanted to make crab cakes but I have no one to pick the crab meat for me. =) So i just end up eating the crab with rice and 2 kinds of “sawsawan” depending on the mood. Kalamansi-butter if feeling western, suka and bagoong alamang if provincial. But the crab cakes do look and sound yummy!

    P.S. My belated sympathies on your hard drive, MM. I just got wireless internet connection today. PLDT DSL has been the pits for the past 2 months.

    Oct 19, 2007 | 5:25 pm


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  3. nina says:

    Wow, sarap! I will try this…

    Oct 19, 2007 | 5:32 pm

  4. ratacutie says:

    Wow! THis is good. My Mom is always trying to think of ways to cook crab meat. We always have an over-abundance of pre-shelled (and pre-packed) crab meat from Higantes (an island in Iloilo) that my Dad brings home, and which we also sell to our neighbors (by special request). Usually, she makes the rellenong crab, egg foo yung, and my sister also has this super yummy crab bisque dish. Superb!!! Will try this recipe. Thanks MM!

    Oct 19, 2007 | 5:47 pm

  5. Mike Wascher says:

    Time to get some crab! I’m usually too lazy to pick the crab meat too, but fortunately there is high quality crab meat available in the area (New Jersey, east coast of the US).

    I shy away from the mayo, making crab cakes with beaten eggs (3-4 to a pound of picked over crab), butter sauted sweet onion, a cup of crumbs (bread crumbs, or the crumbs left at the bottom of a potato chip or corn chip bag … use chips inside & also to coat the outside for a different flavor & texture) and seasoned with Old Bay seasoning (one of the few commercial spice mixes I use). Add cream for the proper consistency.

    Old Bay has spices that include: salt, celery seed, mustard, red pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, cinnamon, and paprika.

    Oct 19, 2007 | 10:52 pm

  6. Jane says:

    I love crab cakes.Fortunately here, where we live I can buy pure crab meat in small tubs and their corals (brown meat )as they call it here from fish mongers. I make mine similar to your recipe but I add some chopped pecan nuts to add texture to the dish.

    Oct 20, 2007 | 12:03 am

  7. Maria Clara says:

    I could have them anytime of the day! Great in sandwich too with all the work.

    Oct 20, 2007 | 12:32 am

  8. Jennifer says:

    There is crab meat for sale in Divisoria Mall Market. I just forgot the price, but it seemed very reasonable at the time. I just couldn’t buy some since my hands were already full of some other stuff I bought first. You can buy them all white meat, or with the claw meat. The all white meat was more expensive, I recall.

    Oct 20, 2007 | 9:44 am

  9. Rowena says:

    Hi MM,i love crabs and I think I would survive eating them the whole week, he he. But I don’t think I have the patience to do the crab cakes, I’ll just buy if I’m lucky to find one…Yummy post…

    Oct 20, 2007 | 4:45 pm

  10. Crab Cake Guy says:

    As a avid crab cake fan I am featuring a variety of recipes on my site, dedicated to…..Crab Cakes. Please stop by and submit your recipe or check out one of the many recipes we have featured.

    Nov 1, 2007 | 10:15 am


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