Dungeness crabs thrive in the eelgrass off the shores of San Juan Island, and are prized for their delicate, slightly sweet flavor.
At home, we like to simply steam them for 15 – 18 minutes, or boil for about 10 minutes, and chow down. However, if you have plenty of cooked crab meat, you can make the same crab cakes that our Coho Restaurant patrons know and love. They are delicious, and full of crab meat – a real crowd pleaser.
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
1/4 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 green onions, thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons + 1 cup Panko, Japanese bread crumbs
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound fresh Dungeness Crab meat, cooked
Place a medium sized sauté pan over medium heat and drizzle the olive oil over the surface of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the bell peppers, celery, and onion. Cook until the vegetables are softened, but not taking on any color. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, except for the 1 cup of panko bread crumbs. Add the cooled vegetables and gently stir the ingredients together until they are fully combined. Take care not to completely shred the crab, as it is quite desirable to have the crab meat a bit visible.
Place the remaining panko in a medium sized bowl. Gently divide the crab mixture into 8 even portions. Take each portion with your hands and toss in the bowl of panko. Remove from bowl and pat into a round cake shape, about 2 ½ inches in diameter, and 1 inch tall. If the crab mixture is falling apart, carefully mix in a bit of the panko from the bowl until it comes together enough to hold a shape. Set aside the cakes in the refrigerator until needed. The cakes will keep covered for up to 3 days.
To Cook: Preheat an oven to 375°F. Heat a well seasoned skillet over medium high heat. Add a bit of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add as many cakes will comfortably fit in the pan. Do not over crowd the pan or it will be difficult to turn the cakes and get a nice brown color on the surface. Cook for several minutes, until the surface of the crab cake is browned. Turn over and cook for about minute longer. Transfer to a baking sheet and set aside. When all of the cakes have been browned, place the sheet pan in the oven and cook for about 7 minutes more, until the cakes are heated through.
Serve immediately, garnished with lots of lemon slices and your favorite toppings. I love to serve them with a spicy lemon aioli or tartar sauce.
Yield: About 8 Cakes enough to feed 4 for dinner, or 8 as a generous appetizer