Executive Chef Jeff Reilly at Drakes Sonoma Coast Kitchen serves all kinds of dishes showcasing the sweet, fresh Dungeness crab pulled from the waters just a stone’s throw from his restaurant kitchen at the Bodega Bay Lodge. Those dishes come and go, but his Crab Cakes with Tomato Ginger Chutney are so popular it’s impossible to take them off the menu. “That’s one dish that people have learned to love,” he says. His secret? Use very little filler, and let the fresh crab speak for itself.
Dungeness Crab Cakes
Serves 12 as appetizer (36 1-ounce crab cakes)
2½ pounds fresh picked Dungeness crab meat, squeezed dry
1 rib celery, diced fine ½ red onion, diced fine ½ red bell pepper, diced fine ½ poblano chile, diced fine
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
5 egg yolks (pasteurized, if possible)
1½ cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 squirts Tabasco sauce
1 dash cumin seed, freshly toasted and ground
4 cups panko breadcrumbs (1 for the mix and 3 for coating the crab cakes).
Quality oil, for frying.
Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a large bowl (reserving 3 cups of panko for coating.) Using a 1-ounce scoop, scoop the mixture into portions and form cakes with your hands. Coat the cake lightly with panko. Brown one side in pan on medium-high heat with the oil. Flip over and finish in the oven for 4 minutes at 375 degrees. Serve immediately with the chutney.