New England, of course, is known for lobster, but I maintain that whoever first plucked one from the briny deep, looked into those eyestalks and said, "Hey! Dinner!" must have been really hungry. I can take or leave them in shelled form, and shell-on prefer to keep my distance. Crab, on the other hand, I would happily eat every week (if I could afford it), and if a menu has crab cakes on it, you can safely bet the house that you know what my order will be.
Once a year or so I take a stab at making them myself; the results have been tasty, but lacking in visual appeal as they invariably fall apart. This has been my best attempt to date, and I suspect it's because they don't mess around trying to be "light." A teaspoon of oil and a nonstick pan just won't cut it in the adhesive department
They were a trifle too wet, but next time I will know to drain my crab better.
1 c mayonnaise
Finely grated zest of one lemon
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb lump crabmeat
3/4 c panko or other breadcrumbs, divided
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 c canola oil for frying
lemon wedges for serving
1. To make the aioli, mix together the mayonnaise, zest, juice, and garilc. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside 1/4 cup of the aioli; cover and refrigerate the remaining 3/4 c until serving.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Pick over the crab meat for shells and cartilage (there's always one tiny little piece). In a bowl, mix together 1/4 c of the panko, 1/4 c aioli, egg, mustard, Worcestershire, hot pepper sauce, and parsley. Add the crabmeat and mix gently to combine.
3. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and shape into thick cakes. Spread the remaining 3/4 c panko in a shallow dish. Coat the cakes evenly with the panko. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
4. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the cakes and cook until the undersides are golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Turn and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain briefly.
5. Serve the cakes at once with lemon wedges and the remaining aioli on the side.