A make-ahead dish that never fails to please!
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 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
- 1/4 cup each (60 mL) minced chives and cilantro leaves
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) rice wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) olive oil (used flavoured such as lime, mango, etc. if you can find it)
- smoked sea salt and pepper to taste
- chili sauce to taste (Sriracha, Sambal Oelek, Tabasco, etc.)
For the crab cakes:
- 2 cans (approx 125 grams each) tinned crabmeat (drained of any liquid)
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) red onion, chopped fine
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) red pepper, chopped fine
- 1 egg, beaten and divided*
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) chili sauce or to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2/3 cup (160 mL) Panko or other dry bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) flour
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) milk
- 1/2 beaten egg (*see above)
For the salsa:
- Grill the largest mango slices (reserving the smaller ones that might slip through the grate) and red pepper over medium-high heat on the barbeque. (You can also lay the mango and peppers out on a baking tray and char them under your oven’s broiler, if that’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.
- Halve the lime and juice it.
- 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; recipe can easily be multiplied.