Crab Cakes with Imperial Sauce

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, June 2007



For the crab cakes:

  • 1 pound fresh crabmeat (jumbo lump), picked over to remove cartilage or shells
  • 4 scallions, green parts only, minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh herbs, such as cilantro, dill, basil, or parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 2-4 tablespoons plain dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges (for serving)

For the imperial sauce:

  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning


Step 1: For the crab cakes: Gently fold the crabmeat, scallions, herbs, Old Bay, 2 tablespoons bread crumbs, mayonnaise, and mustard together in a medium bowl, being careful not to break up the lumps of crab. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Step 2: Carefully fold in the egg white with a rubber spatula until the mixture just holds together, adding the remaining bread crumbs as needed.
Step 3: Divide the crab mixture into 4 portions and shape each into a round cake, about 3 inches across and 1 1/2 inches high. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with waxed or parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes. The crab cakes can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
Step 4: While the crab cakes are chilling in the refrigerator, make the imperial sauce.  Combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and Old Bay in large bowl. Set aside.
Step 4: Spread the flour in a shallow dish. Lightly dredge the crab cakes in the flour and shake off the excess. 
Step 5: Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Gently lay the chilled crab cakes in the skillet and cook until the outsides are crisp and browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. 
Step 6: Drain the crab cakes briefly on paper towels, and serve with the lemon wedges and imperial sauce.

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