January in the Kitchen – Crab Cakes

Dungeness Crab - by brandita b 2007

Dungeness Crab – (photo by brandita b 2007)

Dungeness Crab Cakes

These special crab cakes are headed to Fiesta Friday #52 at the Novice Gardener. This is a special one year anniversary block party. I plan to make these cakes the size of a silver dollar for appetizers and pass them around with a small cube of avocado and a dollop of wasabi mayonnaise. Please join Angie and our friends for the fun.

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

Dungeness crab is found only on the West coast, from the chilly waters of Northern California up into Canada. The season runs from around Thanksgiving to August 1, closing briefly during the crab molting period for them to fill out. When molting the crabs use their meat for energy and will bury themselves in the ocean floor. Only mature male crabs are harvested and they must measure at least 6.25 inches across the back of the shell. Any undersized or female crabs are released back to the ocean to continue the mating cycle, ensure healthy stocks and future harvests.

The “meat-to-shell” ratio for Dungeness is approximately 25%, which makes it one of the meatier crabs available. A 2-pound crab will produce about ½ pound of picked meat. Dungeness crab meat is delicious and sweet tasting.

Crab meat

Dungeness Crab meat

I purchased several crabs off the fishing boat when visiting the Mendocino coast, we ate most of the meat cold, simply picked and eaten with crusty bread, salad, and a crisp white wine. To my joy, there was a bit over a pound of meat left over for making crab cakes.

I prefer my crab cakes to taste of crab, not breadcrumbs, and take my inspiration from sushi; specifically California rolls. These are considered “maki sushi” or rolls. They consist of seaweed wrapped around cooked crab, avocado, rice, and cucumber; often seasoned with wasabi paste. You also find them in what is called a “hand roll” where the seaweed is wrapped into a cone around the filling.

Make time so the crab cakes should chill for an hour before frying. Make these into small cakes around 1-½ inches in diameter to serve as a starter of appetizer for a party. They can be made a bit ahead and warmed in a 200 degree F. oven.

Dungeness Crab Cakes

  • About 1 pound of crab meat (Dungeness or other)
  • ½ cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon of wasabi paste (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Medium grind cornmeal, you’ll need about ½ cup
  • Vegetable oil for frying
Crab cakes coated with cornmeal

Crab cakes coated with cornmeal

  1. Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper
  2. Mix the crab, mayonnaise, wasabi paste, lemon zest, and soy sauce together in a large bowl. Mix gently so the crab stays in fairly large chunks. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  3. Add the beaten egg to the mix and stir gently.
  4. Pour the cornmeal into a plate.
  5. With wet hands form the crab mixture into patties, I made fairly large ones, but small ones are especially nice if you are serving them as a first coarse or at a cocktail party.
  6. Roll the patties in cornmeal and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Place in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
  8. When ready to cook, heat a shimmer of oil in a large skillet on medium high heat.
  9. Add the crab cakes, flattening them slightly. Cook until brown on one side then turn to brown the other side. Turn down the heat if they are cooking to quickly. The interior should be cooked through and the outside crisp and brown.
  10. Serve with avocado, additional soy sauce, cilantro, steamed rice, and a lemon wedge on the side. Or, serve them as party food with a small slice of avocado and a leaf of cilantro on top.
Crab Cakes

Dungeness Crab Cakes

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I served these larger for dinner but am taking smaller ones to the party.

Dungeness Crab Cakes

Dungeness Crab Cakes

37 thoughts on “January in the Kitchen – Crab Cakes

  1. Pingback: First Fiesta Friday Anniversary (Part 1) | The Novice Gardener

  2. oh my this looks amazing i love crabmeat and wasabi i have had wasabi with tuna but never crab. I wouldn’t be brave enough to buy a crab and do anything with it but would certainly buy the meat, thank you for sharing this, and Happy FF partying xx

  3. Great start to our party! These look delicious! I so wish fresh crab and fish was available here in Nebraska but it’s not. Gives us a reason to travel though and frozen works in the meantime. I love this recipe. I am sure the crab shines through.

  4. Now that I know what Dungeness crab is, I will be on the lookout for it since it is a sustainably harvested product. I adore anything crab, but am not always sure which ones are safe to buy in this area. Thanks for not only a delectable appetizer, but very useful information on the product. I know the FF guests are going to love this too. Have a lovely weekend.

    • Hello Hilda, look for it but I’m not sure you will find it in Ontario. They do ship the crabs around the world (Japan in particular). You should have plenty of blue crabs but I am not sure how they are harvested. Growing up in Florida we used to go wading in the shallow waters of the Gulf and collect them in a net. They were yummy boiled up and eaten that same day.

    • Oh my goodness, I am pleased to meet you Tracey. We are almost neighbors. This weekend is the Dungeness Crab Festival in Fort Bragg, CA. Unfortunately I am in DC today but, if you ever get a chance to visit during the festival, they have a crab cake cook off and lots of fun events.

      My friend with the boat said that they are getting ready to molt so the season will slow for a bit then pick up again.

  5. These crab cakes look and sound absolutely delicious – so full of yummy goodness! I could eat a dozen crabs all on my own. We get the Maryland Blue crab here in Delaware. 🙂

  6. Hi Liz – very interesting information on the crab and it looks really meaty. I love that you haven’t padded it out with breadcrumbs – quite delicious! These are sure to be a hit at the party this week! Happy Fiesta Friday!

    • Hello Selma, I hope everyone enjoys them. I wish I had a picture of smaller ones but I made them a couple of weeks ago before I knew the details of the FF block party.

      I have made them smaller in the past and passed them around at a cocktail party. You can make them ahead and warm them in a low oven before serving.

  7. I’m still trying to be a fish fan, but I already LOVE crabs! We go to Maryland for steamed blue crabs all the time. But crab cakes are my absolute favorite way of enjoying them! I’ve been successful in making them in the past, but never with wasabi. That’s something I really need to try! Thanks for bringing these to the party, Liz!

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