Cook the Book: Le Bernardin’s 'Crab Cakes' with Shaved Cauliflower and Dijon Mustard Emulsion

Cook the Book: Le Bernardin\u2019s 'Crab Cakes' with Shaved Cauliflower and Dijon Mustard Emulsion

I’ve almost given up on crab cakes, because restaurants seem to want to put anything in them—from breadcrumbs to mashed potatoes—but crab. Ironically, Le Bernardin puts its crab-only crab cakes in quotation marks, so as not to mislead the diners that have come to expect filler.

There’s no breading in these little cakes to fill you up dishonestly or muffle the flavor of the crab. As a result, it’s a bit of a splurge—but such an elegant one, with its shaved cauliflower and creamy mustard emulsion. As Eric Ripert and Christine Muhlke put it, the dish “has the lightness of a snowball.”

Win 'On the Line'

In addition to excerpting a recipe each day this week, we're giving away five (5) copies of On the Line. Enter to win here »

  • Yield:4


  • For the Dijon mustard emulsion:
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons thinly sliced chives
  • For the garnish:
  • 1/4 head cauliflower
  • 6 chives, cut in half
  • Maldon sea salt
  • For the "crab cakes":
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 5 ounces Maryland lump crabmeat, cleaned
  • 3 ounces peekytoe crabmeat, cleaned
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • Espelette pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste


  1. 1.

    For the Dijon mustard emulsion, gently heat the crème fraiche in a small saucepan. Whisk in the Dijon mustard and season with salt and white pepper. Set aside.

  2. 2.

    For the cauliflower, separate the florest, trying to keep them as large as possible. Slice the florets very thin on a mandoline or Japanese slicer; you will need 20 slices.

  3. 3.

    For the “crab cakes,” make a beurre monté by bringing the water to a boil and gradually whisking in the butter. Add 2 tablespoons of the Dijon mustard emulsion and the lump crabmeat. Gently heat for 2 minutes, then add the peekytoe crabmeat, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt, white pepper, and Espelette pepper. Add the chives and lemon juice. Reheat the mustard emulsion.

  4. 4.

    To serve, place the crab in the center of each of four small bowls, with the peekytoe on the bottom and the lump on top. Stir the chives into the mustard. Garnish each “crab cake” with 5 cauliflower slices, arranging them around and on top of the crab. Place 3 chive halves on top of each mound, and sprinkle with a little Maldon sea salt. Spoon the Dijon emulsion over and around the “crab cakes.” Serve immediately.