Happy New Year and happy Crabby Patty season! Those dates around November – January are known in the Bay Area as Crab Season. Farmers Markets and local grocers are chock full of crab fresh from our bay. These little buggers are delicious just by themselves, but why not dress them up for a little fun? I love crab cakes, but in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I wanted to come up with a version that was Paleo-friendly and delicious. This recipe eliminates gluten and mayonnaise, leaving only fresh, healthy, and satisfying ingredients. The recipe and sauce are adapted versions of two family recipes: Dad’s cocktail sauce and bro-lo Scott’s Northwest Crab Cakes. Ready to get all healthy and crabby? Okay let’s go make Paleo Crab Cakes.
Paleo Crab Cakes
This recipe is a version borrowed from my bro-lo (aka, brother in law, Scott) and adapted to be gluten-free. Because the original version is so incredibly delicious, I’ve also included bro-lo’s original recipe below (thanks, Scott). These little gems can be served in many ways. I’ve provided a few suggestions below to get more creative, but the recipe as written below is with my dad’s original and simple cocktail sauce.
Ingredients for Crab Cakes
Makes six medium sized crab cakes, serves 2
1 whole dungeness crab, pre-steamed, cleaned & cracked*
1 tsp stone ground mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tbs green onions, chopped
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning (can be found at your local grocer)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp worchester sauce
1 large egg
salt & pepper
1/2 – 1 cup almond flour
1 tsp olive oil or butter
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 tsp parsley, chopped, for garnish
lemon, for garnish
*ask your butcher – they do this for you!
Ingredients for Cocktail Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 lemon, juiced
1/4 – 1/2 tsp horseradish (to taste)
1/4 tsp worchester sauce
Directions: mix this stuff together. Ta-da
Optional ingredients for serving:
spinach, tossed in olive oil & vinegar
chardonnay (actually, not optional)
Start by cleaning out your crab meat. One entire dungeness crab should yield you about a pound of meat. Add all ingredients down to salt & pepper and mix with a fork. TASTE. It should taste like crab with hints of mustard, heat, and a little zing from the lemon.
Add about 1/2 the almond flour, mix, and continue to add until it becomes slightly course. You should be able to create a patty in your hand and have it hold together. Too little almond flour and it will be too liquid-y. Too much almond flour and it’ll fall apart in your hands.
Now, create some patties! This recipe yields about six 2-inch diameter patties. At this point, you can refrigerate and keep for one day until cooking.
In a saute pan over medium-high heat, heat up olive oil or butter. Pat both sides of the patties with rice flour. The easiest way to do this is to put the rice flower on a small plate and press both sides of the patties to it. Immediately fry the patties for about 3 minutes on each side. They should be golden brown and crispy.
Serve these little buggers with the simple cocktail sauce, chopped parsley and a wedge of lemon. These can also be dolled up as an excuse for breakfast by adding poached eggs or justified as being super healthy by serving over a fresh salad. But please, whatever you do, enjoy your crab season and enjoy your new year, new you, and New Year’s resolutions!
Scott’s original Northwest Crab Cakes
2 whole dungeness – I’m not sure what this equates to in lump meat, but I usually figure about 3 cups of meat per crab. And don’t use lump meat, it’s expensive, and is usually freeze-thawed too many times
3 egg whites
1/4 red onion
1/4 green pepper
1/4 orange pepper – use whatever color peppers you want, this isn’t a racist recipe, I just like the green and orange because they make the cakes look pretty
1 bunch cilantro
2 cups bread crumbs
2 tbsp light mayo
1 tbsp brown or spicy mustard – I like the beaver brand, because it’s good, and because it’s called beaver.
1 tsp old bay seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder – I also sometimes use minced garlic, but that can sometimes get chunky and overwhelm the flavor
A pinch of black pepper, salt and cumin, and then any additional seasoning you want to add, but I’ve found the old bay and garlic powder to be plenty
Shell the crab. Don’t worry about the size of the chunks, but be diligent in keeping shells out.Dice all the veggies, til they’re about the size of your pinky nail. Do the jalapeno a little smaller. Chop the cilantro. Use as much as you want. I love cilantro, so I’ll usually add about 1/3 cup, but some people like less. Mix the crab meat, diced veggies, cilantro, juice from half a lime, mayo/mustard, seasoning and ½ cup bread crumbs. BE SURE to not use too many, as too many can cause the cakes to not stick, and be too mealy. Turn the egg whites in to the mixture. Make sure to get it good and mixed, but try not to destroy the fiber of the crab meat too much. Throw the whole damn thing in the fridge for an hour or so. Go for a run. Put the rest of the bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Heat a small amount of oil in a large pan or skillet over med-high. I’ve tried cast-iron, but I really think the all-clad works best. Hand form the cakes. Make sure to squeeze them, and drain some of the moisture out. If they’re too moist, they’ll fall apart when you cook them. Bread both sides of the cakes with the bread crumbs, then set them in the pan. Cook both sides until golden brown. Usually 4-5 minutes per side?? But it’s different each time. Favorite sauces are the simple hollandaise with lemon, sriracha and tartar or ginger peanut. I’ve made some pretty wild sauces, and they’re always awesome. Drink lots of wine and whisky.