A proper crab cake is one of those dishes that is too often associated with fancy meals. Yet, there’s no reason why you can’t serve crab cakes any night of the week. They’re perfect for a light summer supper, and can be prepared in less than 30 minutes if you use the following three tricks.
The first trick for quick crab cakes is to add the correct binder to the crab meat. If you’ve got the time to let the cakes rest in the fridge for an hour or two before cooking, you can get away without adding much binder at all. A little mayonnaise and a few seasonings is all it takes. However, in this case, you’ll need to incorporate an egg, for its protein-packed “glue,” and a bit of panko breadcrumbs to absorb liquid, hold together stray bits of crab, and form a somewhat nonstick coating on the outside of the cake. With these ingredients, you can move straight from mixing and shaping the cakes to cooking them on the skillet without any resting time.
The second trick is to choose the seasonings wisely. Since we need egg, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise and, of course, crab, we don’t have much space in the ingredients list to get crazy with flavorful additions. Old Bay is the natural choice for a primary seasoning, as it already blends several spices together. For a little more oomph, trade the mayonnaise for tartar sauce. It is, after all, mostly mayonnaise, and you’ll want to pull it out for serving anyway.
The final trick is the same that you see in all crab cake recipes: be gentle. Mix together the tartar sauce, egg and Old Bay before folding in the best crab meat you can find (and afford). Stir just enough to bring everything together, but try not to break apart large pieces of crab in the process. When you’re frying the cakes, you’ll also want to be gentle. Wait until the first side is deeply browned, a sign that the cakes have a sturdy base to flip, before turning.
All that’s left is to transfer the cakes to a platter and serve with a generous amount of lemon juice and a simply dressed mixed green salad on the side.