Crab cakes have been a part of Southern seaside cooking for generations. I grew up eating a variety of this amazing delicacy. Crab cakes easily go from gourmet sandwich to perfect appetizer to delicious entrée. They are such an essential part of Southern coastal cooking, and I have had one on every menu of my five restaurants, as well as a featured item on my catering menus for the 30 years I have worked as a chef and restaurateur. In search of more intense flavor over the years, I created what I call Creole mayo when I opened my first restaurant, Café Beulah. I was looking for a more robust yet light sauce to lift the flavor profile. Creole mayo was that sauce, and I’ve included it here.
These crab cakes and the ones that follow can be made larger and served as an entrée or plated appetizer. As written, they’ll be small two-bite passed appetizers.
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.
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.
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.
Drain on a crumpled brown paper bag or paper towels. Serve immediately with the Spicy Creole Mayonnaise.
Spicy Creole Mayonnaise
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.
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.
Makes about 3 1/3 cups
The mayonnaise can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
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