Crab is one of those foods that is like a perfect life partner. It can go casual with a simple dunking in a vat of melted butter, or it can get all dressed up and mingle in a party of other ingredients. In other words, I like it.
Fall and winter are the times of year when fresh crab is available here. For obvious reasons, fresh is my preference, but I’m not so snobby as to turn down canned crab in a pinch. Usually when the opportunity to get some good fresh crab comes along, I’ll buy a bunch, shell it, and freeze it in portions. If you decide to follow my lead, ditch the plastic bags and put it in containers instead. You’ll thank me when there is little freezer burn on your precious haul.
At this point, you have a decision to make. Now what? I already have a few favorites posted to help you make up your mind. And clearly, there is a recipe here in this post because that’s why I’m writing this. I’m just giving you options because I’m nice like that! I faced this same conundrum not too long ago and opted to try something new, which gave birth to these crab cakes.
Dipped in a simple beer batter, these crab cakes (in Greek it’s καβουροκεφτεδες, kah-voo-roh-kef-TEH-thes) are crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside, and full of deliciousness with each bite. They are also easy to put together, and you can make a lot or a little to suit your needs. They are perfect as a main meal, or a generous appetizer.
Some quick notes before you begin:
Once made, these crab cakes can be frozen for later eating and reheated in the oven to hot and crisped on the outside. Just freeze them on a tray first until solid, then gently layer them in a container. Reheat in a 200 F oven until hot throughout.
Don’t be delicate when mixing the crab with the other ingredients. You need it to be well incorporated and not lumpy in order for the mixture to hold together in the oil.
Use a lighter beer for the batter. You may like the taste of a bitter or heartier beer when drinking, but the flavors concentrate during the cooking and it will leave your crab cakes with a very bitter taste. Not good.
Beer Battered Crab Cakes Recipe
For the crab mixture:
- 2 lbs. fresh or canned crab (drained if canned)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup snipped green onions, lightly packed
- 1/4 cup finely chopped dill
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2/3 to 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt, or to taste
For the batter:
- 1 cup pilsner type beer
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- olive oil for frying
Place all the ingredients for the crab mixture into a large bowl, starting with the lower amount of flour, and very thoroughly mix them together. You want everything to be well incorporated to ensure the mixture holds together while it’s frying. If the crab doesn’t hold together well when pushed into a ball, or if it seems very wet, add the additional flour. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This allows the flour to absorb moisture and hold the cakes together better.
When you’re ready to fry the crab cakes, mix the beer and flour together. If the mixture seems too thick to be able to easily dunk the crab cakes in, add a little more beer to thin it out. If it seems too liquidy, add a little more flour. Start forming your crab cakes into golf-ball sized portions, but don’t put them in the batter, yet.
Put enough olive oil into a sauce pot to cover the bottom by 1 to 2 inches. Be prepared to add more oil as you go, as some will be absorbed into each crab cake. Heat the oil to 350 F. It will be best if you have a thermometer to help you monitor the temperature. You’ll have the best results if you can keep it between 325 and 350F.
Once the oil is at the right temperature, quickly dunk each crab cake into the batter. I find it best to put each one on a fork, dunk it into the batter, and lightly scrape any excess from the bottom of the fork off on the side of the bowl before putting it into the hot oil. I usually do four at a time in the pot, but don’t crowd your pot or you won’t be able to flip them and your oil will drop in temperature too much.
Carefully flip each one after two minutes and fry for another two minutes. You can watch a video of how I do this here. If you feel your crab cakes need a little more time, you can turn them again until they are a rich golden brown all around. Remove each one carefully from the pot of oil with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with a couple of layers of paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Continue until all your mixture is used up.
Serve your crab cakes with a squeeze of lemon or a dollop of tzatziki for authentic Greek flavor. Yes, tartar sauce or cocktail sauce would work, too, but the other options are better. Trust me. Kali orexi (good appetite)!