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It's the wrong recipe, and it's gone wrong! - Crab Cakes

16 years ago

Yesterday I got some King Crab legs for $7.50 a pound - enough to get almost a pound of crab meat, and so I decided to make crab cakes because I had all of the ingredients. Normally I would have made a crab salad of some sort (which I should have, considering the heat), but I wanted to try something different. I decided to check my New York Times Cook Book by Craig Claiborne, and he had a recipe called "Virginia Crab Cakes" which looked like what I wanted. Here's the recipe:

1 pound crabmeat, picked over well

3 eggs

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup minced scallions, green part included

2 tbsp minced celery with leaves

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup coarse, fresh bread crumbs

3/4 cup flour

Fine fresh breadcrumbs



Mix the crabmeat, 1 egg, mayonnaise, scallions, celery, Worcestershire, lemon juice, and the coarse crumbs. Place in a sieve and drain.

Place the flour on one sheet of wax paper; fine crumbs on another. Beat the remaining 2 eggs lightly. Heat equal parts of oil and butter to a depth of 1/4 inch in a large heavy skillet.

Shape the crab mixture into rounded teaspoonfuls and drop into the flour. Coat with flour, then with egg, and finally with fine crumbs.

Brown on both sides in hot oil.

That sounded straightforward enough, and so I proceeded to make the recipe.

The first problem I had was making the fresh bread crumbs. The only fresh bread I had was whole grain sourdough from La Brea Bakery. This bread is very tasty by itself and has chunks of wheat berries (not whole ones) and other chunky whole grains. My FP is no good at making bread crumbs, and so I decided I would thinly slice the bread and try to make them with a bread knife. This worked okay but made pretty big crumbs, which was okay for the inside of the cakes but a bit large for the coating. Any suggestions for how to make bread crumbs without a food processor?

The second problem I had was that the crab cakes fell apart when I dropped them into the flour. It continued to get messier from there because they would never hold together. I think I may have been trying to make them a bit too large, but a teaspoon seemed too small. Anyway, when I put them into the eggs, they fell apart again, and it got pretty messy trying to put them back together. Each stage was somewhat of a disaster, but in the end, I was about to get cake shapes onto a plate before frying them. Then I just nudged of pushing them off with a spatula into the oil, and they cooked up just fine. I only cooked half of the crab mixture.

Then today I made some more for brunch, and I had to get another egg. There were two eggs left in the carton, which I knocked onto the kitchen floor, and so of course those broke inside the carton but luckily did not on my new floor. (Did I tell you I have a new kitchen floor??) I wasn't too upset because the eggs had expired two days ago, but I knew they were still good.

I figured out after a bit of practice that the wax paper is supposed to be used to jiggle the cakes around to distribute the coating, but that doesn't help with the egg. Should I have made them much smaller? If so, the coarse bread crumbs might not have worked well. I ended up mixing a bit of Matzo Meal with the bread crumbs because I didn't make enough crumbs. I had Panko, which I could have used, but the Matzo was more convenient since I had made Latkes recently.

BTW, my new floor is nothing fancy - just linoleum tiles, but at least I got rid of the tiles that were coming up by themselves. The new tiles are a faux marble, almost white, and I thought the marble pattern would hide dirt - NOT. I like the brightness of the light floor, but it's going to require more cleaning than I thought.


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