Hey there, good lookin’. Get a load o’ what I’m cookin. Sunshine’s Delicious [Sauceless] Crab Cakes aka CRABTASM!!! I say sauceless because they’re so damn good, you don’t need dipping sauce. They’re bomb. And I’m giving up two secret ingredients here. You want some? Come get some. Actually, you’ll need to make your own. We’ve already eaten all the ones pictured.
I was foolhardy when I moved to the mighty Pacific Northwest. I thought surely, being near the water, there’d be cheap and easy to access seafood all over the place. The truth? Not so much. Not that seafood [as well and locally raised farm-fresh meat] isn’t readily available. Nope! I could stroll down that familiar path to Pike Place market, or even visit one of the many groceries nearby, but the prices are outrageous. Outlandish even. Each one is a shenanigan. In Florida, I remember there being ridiculous sales where crab legs would go for $3.50/lb. Okay. That’s an amazing deal. But regular price would be like $4.50 which isn’t bad. Here they’re in the $7-11 range. I’m sorry, what? Pardon me? So when crab legs, especially king, are on “sale” I gravitate toward them. They pull me in. I am a victim. I saw them. They were mine.
End of story.
My honeybee isn’t as good at cracking crab as I am. When you come from $3.50/lb you can afford to have a practice pound…and once you know the rhythm you’ll never forget it–like riding a bike. I thought it’d be a good idea to crack them for us and if I was gonna do that I might as well take it to the next level.
Real vs Imitation
You know I went my whole life without trying imitation crab meat. Twenty-seven years. That whole time I didn’t even know I was a crab snob. It wasn’t until the seafood counter lady offered me a sample that this mental dialogue took place: Eh, no. Why would I want imitation crab meat? Mm. It certainly seems someone is a hater. Wait. I actually haven’t tried it. Can’t be hatin for no damn reason. That’s not who we are. We are, apparently, insane and should probably put a fork in this debate.
I accepted the kind seafood lady’s imitation crab meat and gave it a good gander. For all intents and purposes, it was a great likeness. Seafood lady was explaining that what I was about to sample was actually made in-store using 70% real lump crab meat and 30% soy. Huh. How about that? It tasted pretty close, too. I think it would pass if you were making a dip or these crab cakes, or something else where the crab is an ingredient, not a stand-alone dish. That said, I made these with real crab.
You’ll need a means of steaming your crabbies. You could use a fancy steamer or you could use the make-do method which involves a ginormous pot with a lid, and a stainless steal [or other likewise heat resistant definitely not plastic] colander like so.
Reflect on your lid if you will. Or not, whatever.
You’ll also need a frying pan, a spatula, and a wire cooking rack lined with paper towels.
Pictured- crab legs, duh. This is just over 1 lb. 1 egg, half a red bell pepper, 1 slice of star fruit*, elephant garlic, (only about three slices of this big ass…) onion, shallot. Then for spices there’s paprika, ginger, red pepper flake, mustard, worcestershire sauce, mayo (about a teaspoon) and olive oil.
Not pictured, but very important- Sun Chips crunched up. You could also use crackers or bread crumbs, but Sun Chips are one of my two secret ingredients for their light crispness. Also, flour. A sprinkling for each side amounts to about a 1/3 cup.
* The slice of star fruit is my other secret ingredient. It’s always better to use fruit in its prime season, if you’re fresh out you could replace it with a bit of pineapple. Just try not to add too much more liquid. We’re already working with a pretty wet batter here. The wetness is what makes these crab cakes divinely sauceless and superior to any other crab cake in the world. They’ll be crisp and crunchy on the outside, but juicy and rich on the inside. Ooh, an apple might be good, too. Those are just suggestions. Star fruit is the best because it’s sweet but mild but hearty but also light. So if you can get it, get it.
Okay, so add enough water at the bottom of your pot that it won’t touch your crabbies. You want to steam them, not boil them. Once it’s achieved a rolling boil, put your legs in and top with lid. It’s okay if your lid doesn’t fit snuggly, just cover them as best you can and keep moving. Steam for seven to ten minutes.
In the meantime, chop your veggies and crush your Sun Chips. Note, I used elephant garlic so I could chop more of it with a bit less garlic-y flavor. Love me some standard garlic, but elephant garlic is pefect here.
Give one good squirt of mustard, one good splash of worcestershire sauce, about a teaspoon of mayo and a vigorous sprinkling of red pepper flake, salt, paprika, ginger powder along with your egg. The timing works out that the crab legs finish just as you’re done chopping. Magic! Crack your legs and stir in crab meat, too. This is a great recipe to practice cracking on since you definitely don’t need whole pieces. Try not to break it up too-too much.
This recipe makes 10 crab cakes which is a perfect amount for two people to have for dinner or a group of 4-6 people to have as appetizers. If you’re making dinner for more than two people or appetizers for more than six, I would suggest cooking with an oil that has a higher heat point. Veggie or canola, perhaps. But for this amount olive oil worked well. To cook, begin with a pan over medium heat. Anything higher will scorch your olive oil, so don’t push it! When your oil is hot, sprinkle flour where you intend to place your cakes, then dispense a hearty spoonful on top of each sprinkling. Try and standardize your sizes. Use one particular spoon or look and compare each cake’s size as you work. While the first side cooks, go ahead and pre-flour the next side like so. Use your spatula to slide the cakes gently, ensuring they won’t stick. Do not try to flip them more than once. This requires patience as the first side is a mystery. Each side should take 2-3 minutes for the first round, but then 1-2 for each additional round.
As you complete each crab cake, place on a paper towel lined cooling rack. This ensures that any excess oil is soaked up while maintaining crispness. I cooked these in the middle of the day for dinner later in the evening. Store in a tupperware using layers of aluminum foil between. Then, to reheat, throw each foil sheet in the oven (on 300) in a row for just under ten minutes. They’ll be as crisp and delicious as these fresh ones!
You are where you eat.
Sure, everyone knows you are what you eat, but environment counts, too! Although I love that we have an all-around “living room” vibe to our bedroom [which includes eating dinner there], there’s something wonderful about eating somewhere different just for fun. Try it!
These crab cakes plus this view equals awesome. What are you hungry for these days?