Crab cakes with chipotle chili sauce and grilled corn and tomato salsa

Birthdays are a time for celebration.  They provide the perfect excuse to show someone that you care.  Even a simple gesture can mean a great deal, after all, who doesn’t like to receive a birthday card in the mail.

This year, for my Mom’s birthday, I decided to throw her a little party.  I asked her more than a month ago what she might like for her special dinner, and she responded with the definitive statement: “really good crab cakes and your maple carrot cake.”  So that is what we had!

I have made crab cakes a number of times before, but have never found a recipe that I was in love with, until now!  These crab cakes were absolutely delicious, they were moist and flavorful, and did not require a sauce of any kind.  However, wanting to appeal to everyone’s tastes in my dinner party, I did make two sauces both of which were excellent, and did a lovely job of enhancing the crab cakes.  Of the two sauces, I think that the chipolte chili sauce was definitely the better of the two.  It provided just the right amount of heat (however, I do love spicy food), but did not overpower the flavor of the crab cakes themselves.  The grilled corn and tomato salsa was also good, and appealed more to those who do not prefer spicy food.

What I was the most pleased about with these crab cakes, was that they did not fall apart when I cooked them.  In the past this has been my biggest problem with crab cakes, I remember going to flip them and having them just crumble around my spatula.  Then, when I pieced them back together and attempted to serve them, they were dry and mealy as a result of the breakdown.  But with this recipe, not one even looked at risk of falling apart.  I think that getting the correct bread crumb to crab ratio was key, as well as refrigerating the formed cakes prior to cooking them and then dredging the cakes in flour before placing them in the hot pan made all the difference.

Crab Cakes

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
1 pound lump crab meat (pick over to make sure all remnants of shell are removed) 
6 medium scallions or the equivalent of about 1/2 cup, white parts only, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon mixed fresh parsley and cilantro, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning 
2 Tablespoons breads crumbs, or up to 1/4 cup
1/4 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip 
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup flour
Oil for frying (I use olive oil)
  1. Combine crab, scallions, herbs, seasoning, bread crumbs, and mayonnaise in a large bowl and mix gently with a rubber spatula so as to not breakup the lumps of crab.
  2. Fold in the beaten egg, the mixture should start to stick together.
  3. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
  4. Using a measuring cup as a scoop, take 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the crap mixture in your hands and form into a 2 1/2 by 1/2 inch cake, place on the wax paper and repeat until all the crab mixture is gone.  If the mixture is not holding together, add more bread crumbs a Tablespoon at a time, retesting between each addition.  The end amount will depend on the moisture of the crab meat, but you want as few as possible, because the less bread crumbs the moister the end result will be.
  5. Cover the baking sheet in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1/2 an hour (do not skimp on this, it will make them easier to cook) or up to 24 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  7. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until very hot, water flicked into the pan should sizzle when it hits the surface.
  8. Place flour in a pie plate and dredge cakes before placing them into the hot pan.
  9. Cook for about 5 minutes a side or until crisp and browned on the outside.
  10. Place on a paper towel in an oven safe dish and put in a warm oven until all the cakes are cooked.  DO NOT leave the cakes in the warm oven for an extended period because they will dry out.  Serve warm with lemon and sauces.

Serves 4, makes 8 cakes.

Creamy Chipolte Chili Sauce

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
1/4 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip 
1/4 cup sour cream
3 teaspoons chipolte chilis in adobo sauce, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
juice from one lime, about 1 teaspoon 
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Refrigerate for at least a 1/2 hour before serving so that the flavors meld.

Makes about 3/4 cup.

Grilled Corn and Tomato Salsa

Adapted from the Food Network
2 to 3 ears sweet corn, husked
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
Olive oil
  1. Preheat an oiled grill pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Grill the corn for about 3 minutes a side so that it is lightly browned and charred on all sides.  Let cool.
  3. Combine the tomatoes, onion, parsley, garlic, seasoning, and vinegar in a bowl.
  4. Once the corn has cooled, using a paring knife, slice the kernels off the cobs and add to the tomato mixture.
  5.  Add the mayonnaise and mix well, cover and refrigerate so that flavors meld.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

One thought on “Crab cakes with chipotle chili sauce and grilled corn and tomato salsa

  1. Kate! I made these last night – soooo delicious! Thanks, Jeff and I both loved them! I’m going to make them Wednesday night for some friends again too!

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