This year I would like to do something a little different on the food front. I want to share recipes from my library of cookbooks. I have so many! It is insane how many cookbooks I have and how infrequently I use most of them. So, I want to try and cook something from each one of them over the coarse of the year. (I have 50+ books, so this is no small task.)
I showed up to meet with my photographer friend and pick which recipes we would make first. I chose 4 books to bring, and she brought some as well. And we ended up doing two from her books and two from mine. At this rate, it will be very interesting to try and hit all my books this year.
This first recipe is from a cookbook I love, “I Love Crab Cakes!” by Tom Douglas. I’m with Tom on this one. I love crab cakes too. And this little book is just awesome. There are so many ideas for crab cakes, ranging from super fast, Costco ingredient, simple fare to very complicated, layered flavors from around the world. If you love crab cakes, you need this book. The first crab cake that I ever loved was from Wild Ginger in Seattle. They were so flavorful, they blew my mind. That recipe is in this cookbook and the Wild Ginger cakes are just as good in your own kitchen as they were in the restaurant. I’ve made many of the recipes in this cookbook, but had never tried Emeril’s Crab Cakes. I love Emeril, I love crab, so it was a perfect idea!
They were delicious. So flavorful and unique.
This is one of the most interesting preparations for crab cakes that I’ve come across. Most recipes use mayonnaise, or a homemade aoli to bind the crab together. This recipe, you make a light roux and cook the vegetables in it. The thick creamy sauce binds with the crab and saltines. It makes for a light, creamy, delicious cake.
Emeril’s Crab Cakes
from I Love Crab Cakes! by Tom Douglas
- 7 TB unsalted butter
- 2 TB all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions, green parts only
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup milk
- 2 TB chopped parsley, plus 1 TB more for garnish
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 pound lump blue crabmeat, drained and picked clean of shell
- 20 saltine crackers, finely crushed in a blender or food processor
- 1 cup dried bread crumbs
- 1 TB Emeril’s Creole Seasoning or other Creole or Cajun seasoning
- 1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
Melt 3 TB of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring to make a light roux, about 2 minutes. Add the green onions, celery, bell pepper, salt, cayenne, and black pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring, until the béchamel mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the 2 TB parsley. Let cool a few minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the egg with the crabmeat and cracker crumbs, mixing gently so as to not break up the lumps. Fold in the béchamel and let cool. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and shape into patties. If you have time, cover the patties with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes or more.
When you are ready to fry the crab cakes, combine the bread crumbs and Creole seasoning in a shallow container. One at a time, dredge the patties in the crumbs, turning to coat evenly, and place them on a large plate.
Put 2 large nonstick skillets over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and two tablespoons oil to each pan. When the butter and oil mixture is hot, add 4 patties to each pan. Fry until the cakes are golden brown and heated through, turning once with spatula to brown both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning the heat down if the crab cakes are browning too fast. The internal temperature of the crab cake should be 155 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the crab cakes from the skillets and drain on paper towels.
Transfer the crab cakes to plates and serve, 2 per person. Sprinkle with the reserved parsley. Serve immediately.
These cakes are served on a bed of arugula, which made for a nice presentation. It also helps keep your plate from looking greasy when you serve the cakes.
Photographs by Jessica Yager