Making the perfect crabcake is easy if you have the best, and freshest crab available. The Crab of course is what makes the Crabcake. Remember it is called Crabcake, not Crabloaf, so the goal is to make sure it is light, crispy, and not in the least bit fishy tasting.
The best Crab in the world in my opinion is the Dungeness which ranges between Northern California, and Alaska on the Pacific Coast. If you are from the East Coast of course you think I am crazy because the Blue Crab is what made the Crab cake famous, and Baltimore and the Chesapeake are Crab cake Central.
You guy's are insane, East Coast Crab Cakes go heavy on the Old Bay, and that is to cover up the media the foul tasting crab you actually import from Asia most of the time. Dungeness is the best way to go if you want to achieve the perfect Crab cake.
Dungeness is best when steamed live after catching. You may see live one's at a restaurant, but after a couple of days they start losing body fat so they are not nearly as good as when they are captured. So the only place to get the best Crab is at the dock while you watch it being cooked, or bring it home live and cook it yourself that evening.
Whole Dungeness doesn't freeze, or ship live very well. We have whole previously frozen one's at Costco in Chicago, and they are a pale imitation to the fresh one's on the West Coast. When I want Crab and I don't want to travel to Seattle I call one of the Fishmonger's at Seattle's Pike Place Market. They Fed Ex it out to me on ice and I have it in time for dinner the day after I order.
If you have Crab cake in a restaurant chances are very good that your crab came in a can from Southeast Asia. I have had various grades of the canned Swimming Blue Crab from Phillips and their highest grade which is sold in one pound cans at Costco isn't bad at all, but you can't make the perfect crab cake with it.
You can get very good canned Dungeness Crab from various Internet purveyors, and it works very well for Cakes, or Salads. The stuff the Northwest restaurants usually use is frozen in five, or ten pound cans.
I have had frozen Dungeness Crab ($22 per pound) from Alaska that was vacuum packed in plastic, and it wasn't that great, I wouldn't say it was salad quality. It was fine for crab cakes after it had been soaked in cream for a couple of hours to return some fat, and leach the brine.
For the perfect Crab meat expect to pay around $28 per pound plus the cost of getting it here overnight. It is well worth the expense, and a pound of Crab meat makes a lot of Crabc akes.
The Perfect Crabcake
1 Pound Fresh Dungeness Crab Meat
1/4 Cup Breadcrumbs
1/2 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs (Optional)
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
3 Tsps Mayonnaise
1 Egg beaten
1 finely diced Onion
2 diced Shallots
1 finely Sweet Bell Pepper (Red, Yellow, or Orange)
Old Bay Seasoning
1 cloves of crushed Garlic
Fresh Lemon Juice
A dash of Tabasco
Chop your vegetables and combine with all the ingredients except the Panko bread crumbs and refrigerate an hour or more before using. You are going to notice that you have a pretty runny mixture that doesn't easily hold together or form into a cake, and that is exactly what you are looking for in the creation of a crab cake that is light as air.
Think like your cooking a pancake.
I heat up my griddle, and rub butter all over it and scoop out the crab mixture. Using a small ladle I drop each mound on a some Panko bread crumbs, then toss them on the grill in a free form shape to brown and cook. Don't touch them, or try to flip them till the bottoms are golden brown. When that happens they are able to hold their shapes and you can simply flip them over with a spatula and brown the other side to finish. At this time you can use your spatula to flatten them a bit to give them a more desirable shape.
These Crab cakes rely on the eggs, and cream more than the breadcrumbs inside to hold them together. The secret to light crab cakes is using the least amount of breadcrumbs on the inside that you can get away with.
I like to serve them with a number of different sauces depending on my mood. Hollandaise, Remoulade, Tartar, Cocktail Sauces, or a mixture of Sour Cream, Dijon, and Dill.