Mendo Crab Cakes

Photo: Peden & Munk; Styling: Amy Wilson

Notes: The point of a crab cake is pure crab flavor, not filler, according to Nicholas Petti, chef-owner of Mendo Bistro in Fort Bragg. He won the Mendocino Crab & Wine Days Crabcake Cookoff in both 2002 and 2003 with these simple cakes. The winning wine with crab at the first competition, a Handley Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, is perfect with them. As a shortcut for the tarragon aioli--or if you're concerned about possible bacteria in raw eggs--substitute 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise mixed with 1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon, 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons minced garlic, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and hot sauce and salt to taste. Start the cabbage salad first, then make the aioli and crab cakes.

Yield: Makes 8 first-course or 4 main-dish servings
Total:
Recipe from Sunset

More From Sunset

Recipe Time

Total: 1 Hour

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 1,121
  • Calories from fat: 31%
  • Protein: 42g
  • Fat: 103g
  • Saturated fat: 11g
  • Carbohydrate: 18g
  • Fiber: 2.4g
  • Sodium: 1,515mg
  • Cholesterol: 230mg

Ingredients

  • 1 pound shelled cooked crab (about 2 3/4 cups)
  • 1 3/4 cups panko (Japanese dried bread crumbs) or other dried bread crumbs, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions (including green tops)
  • Tarragon aioli (see notes)
  • About 1/2 cup vegetable oil, divided
  • Champagne cabbage salad

Preparation

  1. 1. Sort through crab; remove and discard any bits of shell. In a bowl, combine crab, 3/4 cup panko, and green onions. Gently mix in 3/4 cup tarragon aioli just until mixture holds together.
  2. 2. Press mixture firmly into eight equal patties about 3 inches wide; set slightly apart on waxed paper or foil. Pour remaining panko into a shallow bowl.
  3. 3. Preheat oven to 200°. Pour 1/3 cup oil into a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, set each crab cake in panko. Using a slotted spatula, turn, pressing gently to coat.
  4. 4. Fry cakes in small batches, using more oil as needed, until golden brown on the bottom, 2 to 4 minutes; turn gently and cook until browned on the other side and hot in the middle, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer cakes as cooked to a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and keep warm in oven. Discard any remaining panko.
  5. 5. Divide cabbage salad among plates. Set crab cakes next to salad, top each with a dollop of tarragon aioli, and serve immediately, with remaining aioli in a bowl.
  6. Nutritional analysis per crab cake.
Also featured in: Sunset, December 2003
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