Got a seafood craving? You’ll want these creole crab cakes.


For 30 years, these deviled crab cakes were a fixture at Alexander Smalls’ five restaurants, starting with Café Beulah. The recipe comes from his newest cookbook, “Meals, Music and Muses: Recipes From My African American Kitchen,” written with Veronica Chambers. (I was lucky enough to work with Smalls writing the book’s recipes.) They’re an ideal appetizer for Mardi Gras or any other party and make a great meal too.

Deviled Crab Cakes With Spicy Creole Mayonnaise

45 minutes, plus chilling. Serves 6 to 8.

These crab cakes are small, two-bite passed appetizers, but they can be made larger and served as an entrée or plated appetizer. To toast the bread cubes, bake them in a 350-degree oven or toaster oven until golden and crisp.

1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells
2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup small cubes white bread, toasted
½ cup plain bread crumbs, plus more for dredging
2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
1½ teaspoons cayenne
1 cup fresh corn kernels
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peanut, canola or vegetable oil, for frying
Spicy Creole Mayonnaise (recipe follows)

1. In a large bowl, mix the crab, onion, bell pepper, celery, parsley, eggs, bread cubes, bread crumbs, thyme, cayenne, corn and ½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper until well combined. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.


2. Put more bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. Form the crab mixture into 1-ounce (1½ -inch-diameter) patties. Dredge the patties in the breadcrumbs to coat and shake off any excess crumbs.

3. Fill a large cast-iron skillet with oil to a depth of ½ inch. Heat over medium-high heat to 325 degrees. Working in batches to avoid crowding the skillet, add the crab patties to the hot oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.

4. Drain on a crumpled brown paper bag or paper towels. Serve immediately with the Spicy Creole Mayonnaise.

Baked Crab Cakes
Place the crumb-dredged uncooked patties on a parchment paper–lined half-sheet pan and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven until browned, about 5 minutes.

Spicy Creole Mayonnaise

45 minutes, plus chilling. Makes about 3 1/3 cups.

1 cup canned diced tomatoes
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup mayonnaise

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the tomatoes, bell pepper, celery, onion, brown sugar, cayenne, tomato paste, vinegar, salt and black pepper and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has the consistency of a thick paste, about 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then chill for 1 hour.

2. Transfer the tomato mixture to a food processor and pulse until smooth. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and fold in the mayonnaise. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.


Make Ahead
The mayonnaise can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 month.