Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Saturday, September 30

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« The Other Red Eye Diet Eating Bugs for My Fifteen Minutes »

Recipe Tue May 29 2007

A Chicago Crab Caper

So, summer’s pretty much here and naturally the future-wife and I are out in the back yard, sitting in the sun, lazily sipping on beers, discussing what to make for dinner. After some misfires, the idea hits. It gets a lukewarm response at first, then it picks up steam. Within ten minutes we can’t get the idea out of our heads. Crabcakes.

My God, it’s lazy, sunny days like these that sweet and flaky crabcakes were invented to compliment. Perfect. But, we’ve got a whole week’s worth of groceries to pick up and a cross-town jaunt to the fancy-pants seafood market for air-mailed, big-dollar, fresh crab would just kill the moment at this point. It’s gonna have to be mid-grade, pasteurized, canned crab from a nearby supermarket. That’s not nearly as bad an idea as it sounds, because, once the cakes are assembled and cooked, only a seriously sophisticated palate will be able to distinguish our preserved crab from any that comes with a weekly “serve by” date. So, our search came down to price, naturally.

The brands and varieties we found were all suitable for our crabcake needs, but Trader Joe’s scored the best for offering the lowest prices and for stocking three types of canned crab meat. There’s a mid-grade, jumbo lump from Jack’s Catch for a city-wide low of $8.99/lb., a mid-grade, jumbo lump from Byrd International for the same price, and a higher-grade, body and claw blend from Byrd’s for $10.49/lb. (By comparison, Whole Foods offers only the Jack’s Catch, but asks $16.99/lb., and the only brand we were able to find at Jewel was from Chicken of the Sea for a ghastly $19.99 per ½ lb. tub.)

(Below the fold: Asian Crabby Patties with Avocado Lime Sauce recipe.)


Now that we picked up our crab, it was time to use it in a recipe. We think we put together a winner:


Asian Crab Patties
1lb. lump crabmeat
1 lg. white onion, small dice
1/2 medium sized red bell pepper, small dice
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp. (or more to taste) Sriracha or Sambal-Oelek (or as we do, both)
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 green onion, sliced thin
1 ½ cups bread crumbs*

Step 1.
Sauté white onion and red pepper until softened slightly (to mellow their flavors and not overpower the delicate crabmeat). Drain and set aside to cool.

Step 2.
In a large bowl, mix mayo, lime juice, zest, Dijon, salt, pepper, Sriracha or Sambal, green onion and cilantro.

Step 3.
Add the red pepper and onion, crabmeat (breaking up the crabmeat slightly but leaving decent sized chunks). Sprinkle in ½ cup of the breadcrumbs and lightly mix in. Refrigerate for ten minutes (the breadcrumbs will absorb some of the moisture which would otherwise make a soggy cake).

Step 4.
Place remaining breadcrumbs on a baking sheet or plate. From the mixed ingredients in bowl, form patties about 2 inches in diameter and about ¾ inch thick. LIGHTLY press both sides of patties into breadcrumbs and place on a plastic-wrap lined sheet pan. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to 1 day. (if you’re really hungry, don’t feel bad skipping the last part.)

Step 5.
Bring a large, heavy skillet to temperature on medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp oil. Add crabcakes—careful not to overcrowd the pan. Leave about an inch between each patty to ensure a proper crust is achieved. Cook until golden brown on both sides (about 2 minutes per side). Add more butter as necessary during cooking, but make sure to wipe out pan and start with fresh oil and butter with each round of patties.

Avocado Lime Sauce
(All ingredients are ballpark amounts. This recipe should be adjusted according to taste.)

Step 1.
Puree a few avocados (or use a prepared guacamole like the kind that Trader Joe’s sells; the key here is to make your avocados LUMP-FREE).

Step 2.
Add the juice of a couple of limes.

Step 3.
Add ½ cup of sour cream or crème fraiche

Step 4.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 5.
Thin slightly with water to desired thickness. The result should be a sauce that you can drizzle around the plate, but not be runny.

Serving Suggestion

We enjoyed putting the crabcakes on a bed of mesclun salad mix and drizzling the plate with the avocado lime sauce.

The crabcakes also make a killer breakfast if you form the patty a little thinner. Throw it on a toasted bagel or English muffin, add some mixed greens and top it with a sunny side up egg.

*For a crunchier crabcake, substitute Japanese Panko breadcrumbs for the crust

GB store
GB store

Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

GB store



Drive-Thru on Flickr

Join the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

About Drive-Thru

Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Robyn Nisi,
Drive-Thru staff inbox:



 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15