Maryland Style Crab Cake with Aioli
Today is Memorial Day. I have many friends and family members who have served, or are currently serving in the United States Military. I have been blessed to know these warriors first-hand, and loved them all so deeply. My husband is a Marine, and since it's his day, I make for him whatever he wants. Because he's from Baltimore, apparently crab cakes are the traditional Memorial Day comfort food.
My crab cakes have a very minimum amount of ingredients, because crab is a gorgeous, delicate flavored thing, so you never want to overpower the beauty of the meat.
You will notice, also, that I use commercially made mayonnaise in the crab cake mix, and then scratch make a mayo-based aioli as an accompaniment. The reason for this is that commercial mayo is very bland flavor-wise and won't overpower the crab. The aioli is served on the side for people who simply must have a dressing for their crab cakes...it happens. What is aioli, you ask? Well...
Aioli or aïoli is a sauce made of garlic and olive oil; in some regions other emulsifiers such as egg are used. The names mean "garlic and oil" in Catalan and Provençal. It is particularly associated with the cuisines of the Mediterranean coasts of Spain , France, and Italy. Current versions of the French-Provençal sauce are typically closer to a garlic mayonnaise, incorporating egg yolks and lemon, whereas the original French Provencal and Spanish Catalan versions are without egg yolk and have considerably more garlic. This gives the sauce a pastier texture, while making it considerably more laborious to make as the emulsion is much harder to stabilize. There are many variations, such as adding lemon juice or other seasonings. In France it can include mustard. It is usually served at room temperature.
Aioli is, like mayonnaise, an emulsion-or suspension-of small globules of oil and oil-soluble compounds in water and water-soluble compounds. In Spain, purists consider that the absence of egg is what distinguishes aioli from mayonnaise, however this is not the case in France and other countries where egg and egg yolk can be used as an emulsifier and is generally used in making aioli today. Using only garlic as an emulsifier requires it to be thoroughly crushed and for oil to be added drop by drop so that the aioli is not "cut" by excess oil.
My aioli is an American variation that contains egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and the addition of apple cider vinegar and lemon zest. I do serve mine chilled, but you can use it right away at room temperature if you want to be a purest. As well...If you are nervous about salmonella or other food-born cooties; simply use pasturized eggs from the fridge section of your local megamart. SO let's cook!
1 pound excellent quality lump crab meat
1/2 sleeve saltines
2 eggs seperated
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. Old Bay
Place the crab into a fine mesh strainer and drain-if needed. Gently sort through the lumps, remove any shells that you find. Set this aside. In you food processor with the blade in place, pour in the saltines. Pulverize the crackers until they look like pepply beach sand.
Pour into a glass (or non reactive bowl). Add the crab, egg whites, mayo, and Old Bay.
GENTLY with your very clean hands fold everything together.
Once the crab cake mix looks to your liking, cover and allow to rest in the fridge 1 hour minimum and up to 6 hours. Meanwhile make the aioli!
Once your mix has rested for a bit, form into 3-4 ounce balls (I use a scooper for this that I bought at my local kitchen store).
Form the into little hockey puck shapes and place back in the fridge for a few minutes to let them rest a bit.
Heat about 1/2-1 inch of canola or peanut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the crab cakes and cook 3-4 minutes per side, until they are cook through.
Evacuate your crab cakes to a paper towel lined, clean sheet pan to drain excess oil.
Serve hot with the aioli on the side.
Lemon Garlic Aioli
2 egg yolks (you did save your yolks from above, yes?)
2-6 cloves garlic (depending on your personal tastes)
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. lemon juice
3/4-1 cup olive oil
1 Tbs. lemon zest
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1tsp. sugar (optional)
In the food processor with the blade in place-and for this your needn't even rinse out the cracker dust from above-pour in the yolks, garlic, vinegar, and lemon juice.
Turn on the machine and let it run 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic is pureed and the mixture is a light, pale yellow.
With the machine running, slowly in a steady stream, pour in the olive oil until the mixture is very thick.
Add remaining ingredients and puree for a few more seconds just to mix.
Pour into a pretty serving container, garnish with parsley if you like and serve.
1. fold in capers
2. add some cayenne pepper for heat
3. add some chopped taragon or cilantro
4. change out the vinegar for a different variety-I like champagne and sherry vinegar best.
5. remove the vinegar and use a total of 4Tbs. lemon juice
6. Add 1Tbs. wholegrain mustard for flavor and texture