Crab. I love crab. Crab in salads. Crab cakes. Crab all by itself. Well, with cocktail sauce. [But NOT with tartar sauce]
Since we all enjoy crab, and since crab can be a tad pricey, here’s a lovely way to enjoy crab flavor with many people at once. This Creamy Crab Dip appeals to all your senses. The smell of crab, the visual excitement of red peppers, and the smooth texture of cream cheese on your palette. Author Patty Fallon of Great Party Dips suggests serving this dip with water biscuits, toasted brioche or endive spear. Actually any cracker will pair marvelously with this dip. Blanched asparagus spears? Heaven.
I’ve enjoyed Peggy’s recipes because they are balanced: they reflect lots of testing and tasting. Still, you’ve got your options here. A little more lemon juice, perhaps lime. More crab, of course. Another scallion or two. There’s plenty of maneuvering room here for you to play and personalize.
This dip is distinctive, easy to make, and memorable. Don’t count on having leftovers.
Creamy Crab Dip
Yield: 1 ¾ cups, enough for 6 to 8
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon prepared white horseradish
- ¼ teaspoon celery salt
- 8 ounces lump crabmeat, picked over to remove any bits of shell or cartilage, and well drained
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, horseradish, and celery salt. Mix until well blended.
Stir in the crab, bell pepper, and scallion.
Transfer to a small serving bowl, cover, and chill for 2 hours or overnight to allow the flavors to develop. Remove from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving.
Source: Great Party Dips by Patty Fallon
Here’s another Super Bowl nosh that Suzen and I have recommended in the past. By halftime, you may be tired of nachos and dips. You may want substance. And an experience. I’ve had crabcakes aplenty — because going to graduate school at Johns Hopkins meant spending years in Baltimore, the home of crabcakes. The first recipe here, Faidley’s, is from a restaurant in a public market. Well, more an eating place. The indoor wooden picnic tables are old, word and sagging. There is no attempt to cover them with newspaper. They just sit on a slopping concrete floor and patrons mingle on the benches enjoying the best lump crabmeat crab cakes in the world.
A close second place rating goes the second recipe from Seattle’s Tom Douglas. You can go either way, or in between. Crab cakes are very, very tolerant of experimentation. So part of your entertainment can be to find some “secret” ingredients stashed deep away on pantry or refrigerator shelves.
Just check those expiration dates!
Faidley’s Crab Cakes
Yield: Serves 4
- 1 Pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over
- 1 Cup crushed saltines
- 1/2 Cup mayonnaise
- 1 Egg
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Dash Tabasco Sauce
Spread the crabmeat out in a flat pan and sprinkle the crushed saltines over the top.
Mix together the mayonnaise, egg, mustard, Worcestershire and Tabasco in a small bowl. Pour the mayonnaise mixture over the crabmeat and gently toss or fold the ingredients together, taking care not to break up the lumps of crabmeat. Let the mixture sit for 2 to 3 minutes before forming the cakes.
Form the cakes by hand or with an ice cream scoop into 8 mounds about 3 inches in diameter and ¾ inch thick. Do not pack the mixture too firmly. The cakes should be as loose as possible, yet still hold their shape. Place the cakes on a tray or platter lined with wax paper, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cooking.
Pour oil into a heavy skillet to a depth of about 1 ½ inches. Heat the oil and fry the crab cakes, a few at a time, until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove with a slotted utensil to paper towels to drain.
Or, broil the cakes: Slip them under a preheated broiler until nicely browned, turning to cook evenly, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side.
Or, sauté the cakes: Heat a small amount clarified butter or olive oil, or a combination, in a skillet and sauté the cakes, turning several times, until golden brown, about 8 minutes total cooking time.
Source: Chesapeake Bay Cooking by John Lewis.
Jacques Pepin’s Crab Cakes
Yield: Serves 4
- ½ pound either pasteurized or fresh crabmeat drained and picked clean of shell
- 1 ¼ cups fresh bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons minced scallions
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- ¼ teaspoon Tabasco
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds
- 2 to 3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil [I actually used butter for flavor]
To make the crab cakes, put the crabmeat in a bowl and add ⅔cup of the bread crumbs, the scallions, cilantro, garlic, mayonnaise, Tabasco, and salt. Mix lightly, just until the ingredients are well combined.
Put the remaining bread crumbs in the bowl of a food processor with the almonds, and process until the nuts are well chopped and combined with the bread.
Form the crab mixture into 4 patties, then dip each patty into the bread and almond mixture until it is coated on all sides.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium hat, and arrange the patties next to one another in the pan, handling them gently because the mixture is soft. Cook until golden brown on both sides and hot through, turning once with a spatula, 3 to 4 minutes per side. The internal temperature of a crab cakes should read 155° on an instant-read thermometer.