Teri Lynn Herbert of James Island lost her best crab cake recipe and asked for help in getting it back.
She says it comes from one of our great local chefs and has lots of fresh tarragon and some panko, though further details are fuzzy to her.
David Hawkins emailed, “I think the recipe is Donald Barickman’s, who was chef at Magnolias, Cypress, etc. His book is ‘Magnolias.’ It is my favorite and the tube method (mix is tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated) usually results in uniform cakes that stay together during cooking.”
Today, Barickman is going strong as a chef instructor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston.
Carolina Crab Cakes
1/2 cup minced red onions
1/3 cup minced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced tarragon
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 pound jumbo lump or lump crabmeat, gently picked over and drained of any liquid (see chef’s notes)
3/4 cup panko (see chef’s notes)
2 teaspoons salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons light olive oil
Chef’s notes: “All crabmeat should be picked over to remove any possible remaining shell, but do it gently because you don’t want to break up the lumps. Then place the crabmeat in a strainer and press down lightly to extract any extra liquid.
“Panko, frequently referred to as Japanese bread crumbs, creates a very golden and crunchy breading when dipping and frying, and also works well as a binder. You may prefer to lightly dust the crab cakes in panko to give the cakes a crispy golden crust. The crumbs are very neutral in flavor and light in color.”
Place onions, bell pepper, tarragon and mayonnaise in a mixing bowl and combine. Gently fold in the crabmeat. Add the panko and season with salt, white pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. The panko will absorb some of the moisture, and the mixture will stay together.
Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap on a clean counter surface. Place half of the crab mixture on it and use a spatula or spoon to form it into a tube about 3/4 inches in diameter. Bring the wrap up over the crab and roll up the crab mixture. Twist the ends to close. Pierce any air pockets with a toothpick or skewer. Twist the ends even tighter to compress the crab mixture. Tuck under the ends of the wrap and place the tube on a plate.
Repeat with the second half of the crab cake mixture. Place the tubes in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight. (Note: If you don’t want to go through the process of making the tubes, form the mixture into 8 equal-size 3-ounce cakes by hand or with a scoop. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before cooking.)
When ready to cook, Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
When ready to use, cut the tubes into 11/4-inch-thick cakes. Gently remove the plastic wrap, leaving the cakes in nice cylinders. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Gently place 4 of the crab cakes in the pan and sear for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.
Gently turn the cakes over and sear 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Place them on a baking sheet.
Wipe the pan, add the remaining olive oil and repeat this process for the other 4 crab cakes.
Last call: Who has a good oyster stew and an oyster pie/casserole recipes for Sandra Salmon of Summerville?
If there’s a recipe you’ve lost or a dish you are just wondering about, email food@postandcourier or call Features and Food Editor Teresa Taylor at 937-4886.