Gallery: The Food Lab: The Crabbiest Crab Cakes

Crabby Cakes
Crabby Cakes

Nothing but crab and a touch of aromatics inside with a crisp coating of breadcrumbs just on one side of the cake. How do we get them to hold together?

Step 1: Mix
Step 1: Mix

Fold together a pound of jumbo lump crab meat with 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise and one large eggs. Herbs are optional.

Step 2: Form Log
Step 2: Form Log

Form the mixture into a log shape in the middle of a large sheet of aluminum foil.

Step 3: Start Rolling
Step 3: Start Rolling

Lift up the edge of the foil and start rolling the log away from you, trying to keep the foil as tight as possible without squeezing out the crab.

Step 4: Keep Rolling
Step 4: Keep Rolling

Once you've formed a log, it should roll away from you easily without compressing.

Step 5: Tighten Edges
Step 5: Tighten Edges

Twiste the edges of the foil to compress the log further, creating a tight, evenly shaped log.

Step 6: Freeze Log
Step 6: Freeze Log

Place the log in the freezer until it firms up but doesn't completely freeze, about 25 minutes.

Step 7: Slice
Step 7: Slice

Slice the cakes directly through the foil. The cakes should be about an inch and a half thick. You'll have a bit of waste at the end of the logs. The scrap can be collected and formed into a freeform cake. If the cakes are too soft, return them to the freezer for a few minutes.

Step 8: Prepare Your Breading
Step 8: Prepare Your Breading

Put an beaten egg in one bowl and panko breadcrumbs in another.

Step 9: Egg It
Step 9: Egg It

Dip one side of one cake in egg.

Step 10: Crumb It
Step 10: Crumb It

Then into the bread crumbs.

Step 11: Repeat
Step 11: Repeat

Repeat on all the cakes, transferring them to a parchment-lined baking sheet as you work.

Step 12: Heat Fat
Step 12: Heat Fat

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil and butter together in a large cast iron skillet until the butter melts.

Step 13: Fry
Step 13: Fry

Slip the cakes into the melted butter and cook them over moderate heat, swirling the pan around occasionally, until the bottoms are pale golden brown and the cakes begin to hold themselves together.

Step 14: Peel
Step 14: Peel

Remove the foil once the cakes are firm enough to hold themselves together.

Step 15: Double Check
Step 15: Double Check

Check the bottom of one cake to ensure that it's golden brown before proceeding.

Step 16: Baste
Step 16: Baste

Tilt the pan towards you, then spoon some of the hot fat on top of the cakes until they are completely coated. This browned butter will help them brown rapidly under the broiler (which should be preheated by now).

Step 17: Broil
Step 17: Broil

Place the cakes about 6 inches below the broiler and broil until golden brown and cooked through.

Step 18: Done Broiled
Step 18: Done Broiled

The cakes should come out lightly puffed and golden brown.

Step 19: Blot
Step 19: Blot

Transfer the cakes to paper towels to blot off excess fat from both sides.

Step 20: Serve
Step 20: Serve

Serve the cakes crumbed-side-up with Extra Tangy Tartar Sauce.

Nothing but Crab
Nothing but Crab

The interior of the cakes are tender, sweet, succulent, and intensely crab flavored because, well, there's not much but crab in there.