Crab imperial is everything Maryland crab cakes aren't, in the best possible way. It's loaded with seasonings, like Old Bay, lemon, and mustard; has a delightfully creamy consistency; and sports a crispy, crunchy topping of golden buttered bread crumbs. It won't hold its shape as a crab cake, but it doesn't need to—and it's much easier to make.
Why It Works
- A flavorful mayonnaise-based mixture binds tender pieces of crabmeat for a luxurious dip.
- Tossing the bread crumbs with melted butter makes them brown more beautifully and improves their flavor.
- Yield:Serves 4 to 6 as a snack or appetizer
- Active time: 15 minutes
- Total time:40 minutes
- 1 pound (450g) special or lump crabmeat, picked over for shells
- 1/2 cup (120ml) mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) fresh juice from 1 lemon, plus grated zest of half a lemon
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- 1 small shallot, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (1 ounce; 30g)
- 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
- Baguette toasts, saltines, or other crackers, for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). In a medium bowl, stir together crabmeat, mayonnaise, Dijon, lemon juice and zest, parsley, Old Bay, and shallot until evenly incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, stir bread crumbs with melted butter until evenly coated. Season with salt.
Pack crab mixture in a 1-quart baking or gratin dish, then layer buttered bread crumbs evenly on top. Set on top of a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crab mixture is heated through and bread crumbs are golden, about 20 minutes. Serve with toasts or crackers, if desired.