Published May 1, 2012. From Cook's Illustrated.
Who says great crab cakes have to start with fresh-from-the-shell crabmeat? We wanted briny, sweet-tasting results—no matter what the starting point.
The best crab cakes are made with meat that’s just been picked from the shell. But fresh crabmeat is almost impossible to come by, which prevents this simple dish from being prepared at home more often.
We wanted to come up with the best possible crab cakes—sweet, plump meat delicately seasoned and seamlessly held together with a binder that didn’t detract from the seafood flavor—regardless of whether we were starting with fresh crabmeat.
The obvious first step was determining the best type of packaged crabmeat. We opted for jumbo lump or lump crabmeat, which we soaked in milk to get rid of its fishiness.
We then moved on to consider more conventional crab cake decisions like flavors and binders. Celery, onion, and Old Bay seasoning were classic additions that nicely rounded out the rich flavor of the crabmeat, but the flavor-muting binders were a trickier issue. We decided to call on something used in high-end restaurants: a mousseline. This delicate, savory mousse is mainly composed of pureed meat or fish and just a little cream. To enhance the briny sweetness and plump bite of the crabmeat, we decided to use shrimp. We pureed some shrimp and cream, plus the seasonings. Sure enough, the resulting mousse was a great binder that allowed the clean crab flavor to shine.
Our final task was finding a way to keep the cakes intact when we flipped them. Briefly chilling them turned out to be the secret to sturdy cakes. After a short rest in the refrigerator, the cakes not only felt noticeably sturdier but also held up considerably better during cooking.list of recipes