We’re not going to talk about how August is almost over, because that will make me start crying.
What we are going to talk about is how perfect the (late, sob) summer weather has (finally) been lately. Is there anything better than a weekend full of cloudless skies, temperatures in the low 80s, barely any humidity, and a slight breeze? No, no there is not, especially when you don’t have to travel and can just spend the whole perfect weekend outside.
Though you could make it a bit better with these crab cakes, because seriously, they are bomb.
I am a huge crab cake fan, but I’d never made them before, preferring to get them at restaurants, or to let my dad make large batches while I come over to steal some of them. But the perfect summer weather got me in a crab cakey mood, and I decided to give it a whirl. I figured that since I’ve watched my dad make them so many times, I’d just glance at a few recipes’ ingredients lists and just wing it.
However, none of this prepared me for the fact that crab meat is not like chicken cutlets or ground meat–it doesn’t come ready to go. Apparently, you have to pick through the crab meat for any stray pieces of shell, which will definitely be there. If I had bothered to fully read any of the recipes I glanced at for seasoning ideas, I would have known this. So, if you’re planning to make these, please promise me you’ll check for shells. Otherwise, some bites of your crab cakes will have a slightly crunchy bite, which isn’t unpleasant, exactly, but I’d really recommend them without that.
One thing I did learn from my glances at recipes is that pretty much all of them, even the “light” ones, require you to use mayonnaise as an ingredient. I’m not really a fan of mayo, so I don’t keep it in the house, and I didn’t feel like walking to Panera to steal some mayo packets. What I DO keep in the house is a bottle of chipotle ranch dressing, which is one of my favorite condiments for sandwiches and salads. I knew the texture would be similar to mayo, and the flavor better, so I decided to try that out. I was NOT disappointed. I don’t often brag outright about my cooking successes, but this was probably one of my best cooking ideas in a long time. I use Cindy’s Kitchen (I get it at Whole Foods and Fairway), but if you can’t find it, you can use stupid mayo instead–just increase the amount of hot sauce and seasonings you’re using. Don’t be daunted by the length of the ingredient list; you have most of this in your kitchen already, and the actual prep and cooking takes less than 15 minutes.
Spicy Gluten-free Crab Cakes Recipe (makes 6)
8 ounces fresh lump crab meat, picked over for shell pieces, seriously
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 to 1 tsp hot sauce (your choice)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp chipotle ranch dressing (or regular ranch or mayo, plus more hot sauce)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup gluten-free Panko (or other breadcrumbs of your choice)
Dump out crab meat into a large bowl and check it for shell pieces, I’m not kidding. Add all of the rest of the ingredients except the olive oil. Using your hands (gross, but the most effective), mix everything together as lightly as you can, until everything is well distributed. Cover bowl lightly with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours (go get a pedicure).
Take the bowl out of the fridge about 10 minutes before you’re ready to get cooking (maybe get working on your side dishes, unless you’re planning to just eat crab cakes for dinner, which sounds awesome). Divide crab mixture into six portions. Roll each portion lightly into a ball, then press out into a patty (mine were about 1/2 to 3/4 an inch thick). Pour enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large, nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. When oil is hot (test it by putting in a small piece of crab and seeing if it sizzles), add crab cakes and cook, flipping once, until browned on each side, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from skillet, squeeze some lemon juice over them, and dig in.