I’m still in the middle of moving. It’s been a far greater undertaking than I expected, since I’ve lived in the same place for the last 10 years and accumulated a LOT of … well, mostly kitchen gear and wine. I guess there are worse obsessions to have! Anyway, for my birthday we took a cooking class at Niner Winery taught by Ian McPhee of McPhee’s Grill. The main recipe he taught us was his crab cakes, which were one of the best I’ve ever had. The secret, he says, is to use fresh bread instead of breadcrumbs, and jumbo lump crabmeat. The rich remoulade sauce over the top contrasted nicely with the clean taste of a quick fennel salad, so I highly recommend trying it as shown before experimenting. Even I will probably abstain from tweaking it, and we all know how hard that is for me!
You need to make the remoulade sauce an hour beforehand so it can sit for an hour and meld flavors. Just mince everything up and mix well, then let sit for an hour.
Start the crab cakes by dicing some fresh white bread very finely. Do not use breadcrumbs, and don’t try to run it through a food processor. You need a fine, consistent dice of fresh bread here.
Mix in the mayonnaise, egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the diced chives, mustard, hot sauce, juice of 1 lemon, salt, and pepper.
Let rest for 15 minutes so the bread absorbs the egg yolks, which prevents an unpleasantly yellow-and-white streaked crab cake. Meanwhile, make your fennel salad. Slice the fennel very thin with a mandolin or food processor. Combine with the lemon juice, olive oil, remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, the salt, and the pepper.
Once the crab cake mixture has rested, it’s time to form the crab cakes. Using your hands, form cakes of about 6 ounces each. Do not press tightly or they won’t bake properly. Brush a baking tray with butter or nonstick cooking spray, or use a silpat. Place the crab cakes evenly spaced on the tray, then mix together melted butter and crab boil and brush over the tops of the crab cakes. Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 12 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
Spread the fennel salad over a large platter or on individual plates, place crab cakes on top, and dollop the remoulade sauce on top. Enjoy! (I certainly did.)
Crab Cakes ala Ian McPhee
- Crab Cakes:
- 2 cups small diced white bread
- 2 cups prepared mayonnaise
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Dash hot red pepper sauce
- 1 lemon juiced
- Gray salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds jumbo lump blue crabmeat
- 8 tablespoons butter 1 stick
- 1 tablespoon crab boil seasoning recommended: Old Bay
- 4 bulbs fennel
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Gray salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Remoulade sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon anchovy fillet minced
- 1 tablespoon capers rinsed and minced
- 1 tablespoon cornichons minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian parsley minced
- 1 tablespoon green onion minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
Make the remoulade sauce: Mix everything together, let sit for an hour.
Make the crab cakes:
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a large nonreactive mixing bowl combine the bread, mayonnaise, egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, chives, mustard, hot red pepper sauce, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Let rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the fennel salad. Use a mandoline or food processor to slice the fennel very thin. Combine with the lemon juice, olive oil, remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, salt, and pepper.
With a spatula, gently fold the crabmeat into the bowl, being careful not to break up the meat. Use your hands to form cakes of about 6 ounces each. Place on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, brushed with butter, or with a silpat baking mat.
Melt butter and mix in crab boil. Brush over the tops of the crab cakes.
Bake cakes on the top rack of the oven for 12 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
Spread the fennel salad on a large platter and place the crab cakes on top. Finish with the remoulade sauce.