Food & Drink

Eat crab cakes in Florida. If you can’t, make these at home

Make crab cakes at home if you can’t go to Florida.
Make crab cakes at home if you can’t go to Florida.

Last week, we were basking in the Florida sun enjoying a big family vacation, so forgive me for skipping a week writing. Being totally honest, Florida hasn’t been my favorite vacation spot, but this trip changed my mind. We went to Seaside, and it was not only gorgeous, it was charming and quaint.

The town of Seaside is like something out of a movie – all the architecture is traditional and it’s supposed to look like an old beach town. The wood framed cottages are painted fun colors to set them apart. The town square has many shops and restaurants to keep you busy if a break from the sun is needed. And the Airstream food trucks fit nicely in the picturesque landscape there. Eating seafood at every restaurant possible was my mission for the week.

Crab cakes happen to be a favorite of mine when it comes to Southern cuisine, but it’s been quite a few years since I’ve made them. This isn’t a quick-throw-it-together type of main dish, so plan a head a bit if you decide to give it a try.

Years ago, my friend Joanne and I ordered a case of king crab legs and made this recipe. One might think that making crab cakes is a waste of king crab, but the results of the long labor were quite divine. It was an afternoon affair with a splash of wine and many great memories. If you decide to crack your own crab for these, double up on the wine because you’ll be cracking and picking for a while. Or do yourself a favor and just buy a ticket on Allegiant and go get some crab cakes in Florida.

Adriene Rathbun is an enthusiastic Wichita cook who offers cooking classes through her business, Social. Reach her at socialcookingclasses.com or ar@adrienerathbun.com.

Crab Cakes with Basil Mayo

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup yellow onion, small dice

½ cup celery, small dice

½ cup yellow bell pepper, small dice

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 pound lump crab meat

¼ cup green onions, chopped

¼ cup Parmesan Reggiano, grated

2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

1 ½ tablespoon grainy mustard

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

1 egg

1 cup, plus ½ cup canola oil

¼ cup fresh basil leaves

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon water

Salt and pepper

In a medium sauté pan over medium, heat the olive oil, then add onions, celery, and peppers. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté for a few minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until it’s fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the crab meat, green onions, grated cheese, parsley, grainy mustard, and juice of one lemon together. Mix together.

Add one egg and remainder of lemon juice into a food processor for 1 minute. With the machine running, slowly add ½ cup canola oil. The mixture will be thick after all the oil is incorporated. Roughly chop the basil and then add it to the mayo. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the vegetable mixture into the crab mixture. Then fold in ½ cup of the mayonnaise and 3/4 cup of panko into the crab mixture. Mix until combined.

Season the flour with a bit of salt and pepper on one plate and mix with remaining panko breadcrumbs.

Scoop the crab mixture with 1/3 cup measuring spoon and roll into a ball and then make a patty about 1 inch thick. Pour the oil into a sauté pan. Dredge the cakes in the flour/panko mixture, and then gently lay the cakes in the oil and fry for 4 minutes on each side, or until medium brown (to get a nice crispy crust). Remove the cakes from the oil and drain on a paper towel plate. Serve with basil mayo.

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