I have always had a fondness for crab cakes. A favourite Ottawa restaurant that sadly is no more, The Upstairs Bistro, used to make some of the best I’ve ever tasted. I used to beg the owner to let me order his crab cakes for takeout when my kids were babies and we didn’t get out much. I was recently reminded how much I love crab cakes when I tasted the delicious ones on offer at the National Arts Centre’s le café, as part of their summertime terrace menu. I had fun playing around with inexpensive but surprisingly good canned crab meat to come up with this recipe. Any salsa or chutney would do as an accompaniment, but this grilled mango/red pepper version is pretty darn tasty. Another great thing about this dish is that you can prepare the crab cakes up to a day ahead and reheat them at serving time.
For the salsa:
1 mango, sliced
1/2 large sweet red pepper, sliced in 1″ strips
1 lime, halved
1/4 cup minced chives
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil (used flavoured such as lime, mango, etc. if you can find it)l
smoked sea salt and pepper to taste
Chili Sauce to taste (Sriracha, Sambal Oelek, Tabasco, etc.)
For the crab cakes:
2 cans (approx 125g each) tinned crabmeat (drained of any liquid)
2 tablespoons red onion, chopped fine
¼ cup red pepper, chopped fine
1 egg, beaten and divided *
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon Chili sauce or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup Panko or other dry bread crumbs
½ cup flour
1/3 cup milk
½ beaten egg (*see above)
For the salsa:
- Grill the largest mango slices (reserving the smaller ones that might slip through the grate), lime halves and red pepper strips over medium-high heat on the barbeque. (You can also do this in a heavy frying pan if it’s more convenient).
- Once very lightly charred and beginning to soften, remove from heat.
- Dice red pepper and all the mango (grilled and not). Note that the mango will be a little mushy – that’s OK! This makes for a nice, juicy salsa.
- Juice the lime halves.
- In a medium mixing bowl combine the diced fruit and lime juice with the remaining salsa ingredients, and season with salt, pepper and chili sauce to taste – you may not need much if the jalapeno offers enough heat for you.
- Salsa can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated.
For the crab cakes:
- In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients for the crab cakes including just half of the beaten egg (reserve the other half) and mix well.
- On a parchment-lined baking sheet shape crab mixture into small cakes and freeze for 30 minutes so they will be firm enough to coat and fry without falling apart.
For the breading
- In a small bowl, combine egg and milk and mix well.
- Put flour in another small bowl, put Panko or bread crumbs in a third bowl.
- Heat 1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick frying pan.
- While pan heats, dredge the frozen crab cakes in the flour, then dip into egg/milk mixture and finally dredge in breadcrumbs, patting gently to ensure the crumbs adhere.
- Fry crab cakes until well browned on both sides, turning once, very gently. Don’t overcrowd the pan – do in batches if necessary. If doing in batches, place in preheated 300F oven to keep warm while you finish cooking them.
- Depending upon the size of your cakes it should take approximately 4 – 6 minutes per side.
- Enjoy with salsa or other condiment of your choice.
Note: Once cakes are fried, they can be placed on paper-towel lined plates and refrigerated until cool (if not serving immediately). Once cool, cover with plastic wrap to store in fridge for up to 24 hours. Reheat in a preheated 325F oven for about 10 minutes, until heated through.
Makes 8 large crab cakes or 14 small ones.