The substitution of almond flour for conventional wheat flour in this recipe originated as a gluten-free workaround, but because almond meal absorbs moisture without becoming starchy, it provides structure while keeping the cakes moister and more tender than a traditional crab cake. This recipe was developed by SAVEUR.com contributor Judy Haubert.
For the Lemon Aioli
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 2⁄3 to 1 cup grapeseed oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For the Crab Cakes
- 1⁄3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tsp. lemon zest
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 2 2⁄3 cups ground almond meal, divided
- 4 scallions, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. chopped dill
- 1 tbsp. chopped tarragon
- 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
- 1 lb. lump crabmeat, picked over
- 1⁄2 tsp. salt
- 1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
- 1⁄3 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup canola or grapeseed oil for frying
Make the aioli: Combine egg yolks, mustard, garlic, and lemon zest and juice in a blender and puree until smooth. With blender running on its lowest setting, remove the lid plug and slowly drizzle in grapeseed oil, a few drops at at a time, until mixture begins to thicken. Gradually increase the oil to a thin, steady stream, until a uniform creamy consistency is reached. If mixture begins to thread and break apart, stop adding oil and drizzle in lukewarm water a few drops at a time, until consistency once again becomes uniform and creamy. Season aioli with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
Make the crab cakes: Whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, egg, yolk, and lemon zest and juice in a large bowl. Mix in 2 cups of almond meal, scallions, and herbs until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in crab, taking care to keep large lumps intact. Season mixture with salt and white pepper, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Mix remaining 2⁄3 cup almond meal and cornmeal in a pie plate, season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide crab mixture into 12 equal portions and form into 2-inch patties. Coat in almond-cornmeal mixture, pressing coating up sides until cakes are completely covered.
Heat 4 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is hot but no smoking, about 2-3 minutes. In batches, cook the crab cakes for 4-5 minutes per side until deep golden brown and crisp, wiping out the skillet and adding fresh oil between batches. Transfer cooked crab cakes to a paper-towel-lined tray and serve while warm.
Notes: The aioli may be made up to 2 days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Crabcakes can be kept warm in a 200° oven for up to 30 minutes before service, or while making aioli.