During party season, we often find ourselves entertaining friends and family. That being said, we usually try to find quick, easy-to-make, attractive hors d’oeuvres to feed our hungry guests. My mini crab cakes pack all the flavourful punch of a full size crab cake, with an elegant twist of coming in bite-size form. They are fairly easy to make (although they do take a while due to all the steps involved), and they freeze well so they can be made in batches ahead of time. If you choose to freeze your crab cakes, just follow all the steps in making them, but don’t fry them until you are ready to serve. Make sure they are well wrapped before freezing, and bring them to room temperature when you need them. When shaping your mini crab cakes, you may find it difficult to find a mould small enough.
This can be solved by using a shot glass- simply lay out a bit of your crab mixture, shape it with the opening of a shot glass, and then set the made crab cake aside and continue with the rest. This way, you can ensure a uniform batch of crab cakes. Traditionally, crab cakes are fried all the way through until finished. Although frying is necessary in order to crisp up the bread coating and sear the cakes, I prefer to finish them in the oven. While this is optional, I find it results in a less greasy, nicer crab cake. Drizzling a flavourful and pretty aioli over the cakes adds a finishing touch to an already great product, and can also be made ahead of time. An aioli is basically just a flavoured mayonnaise. Although I’ve provided the recipe for aioli made from scratch, you can save yourself some work by mixing together ¼ cup of Mayonnaise with 2 tbsp olive oil and whichever flavour additions you like for a quick and authentic tasting aioli. If you are ambitious, or have always wanted to try making your own mayonnaise, give it a try- it’s much easier than one would think! If you would like to make more than one flavour of aioli, start with the basic mayo recipe (egg yolks, white wine vinegar and olive oil; below), and halve it before adding the flavours. For a perfect drizzle, pour the aioli (or aiolis) into squeeze bottles, and squeeze over the cakes just before service.
Mini Crab cakes
You will need:
6 large shallots, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 red pepper, finely diced
½ jalapeno, finely diced
3 lbs lump crab meat, drained and picked over
2 cups heavy cream
3 fresh bay leaves
½ bunch fresh thyme
1 birdseye chilli
2 star anise seeds
2 cups breadcrumbs
¼ cup flour
1/2 cup cooking oil, for frying
1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat cream, bay leaves, star anise, thyme, and the chilli. Allow flavours to infuse, about 5-10 minutes, then pour into a bowl and allow to fully cool.
3. In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, heat 2 tbsp olive oil. Add shallots and celery, cooking until soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the diced red pepper and jalapeno, continue to cook for about another minute. Set aside to cool.
4. In a large bowl, mix the clean, dry crab meat with the red pepper, shallot and celery mixture, cream mixture, and egg. Mix well.
5. Add the flour, and a small handful of the bread crumbs. Combine crab mixture thoroughly. If the mixture does not hold together, add a bit more flour and another handful of bread crumbs.
6. Divide the crab mixture into small portions, and form into small rounds. Dip each side into remaining breadcrumbs.
7. In a large pan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Heat the crab cakes, 4-5 at a time, 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Place seared crab cakes on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
8. Place baking sheet in oven at 350F, about 10 minutes or until crab cakes are heated through.
Curry Ginger Aioli
You will need:
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger root
½ tbsp curry powder, plus 1 tsp turmeric powder
6 egg yolks
½ cup olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1. Whisk egg yolks until light.
2. Add vinegar, and continue to whisk.
3. Pour olive oil in a slow stream into the egg yolk mixture, whisk until lighter in colour and thickened.
4. Stir in prepared ginger and seasonings.
You will need:
8 egg yolks ½ cup olive oil 1 tbsp white wine vinegar Salt and pepper, to taste 2 tbsp prepared horseradish
1. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks until light, about 1 minute. Add white wine vinegar, and continue to whisk. While whisking continuously, pour olive oil in a very slow stream until mixture starts to come together and thicken. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Stir in horseradish.