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Panko Crusted Lump Crab Cakes with Saffron Aioli

by Guerry Norwood

Crab Cake Ingredients

  • 16 ounces lump crab meat
  • 1/4 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups panko (see notes) or fine dried bread crumbs
  • Saffron Aioli (recipe follows)
  • Fresh chives, rinsed and cut into 1-inch lengths

Preparation

  1. Sort through crab and discard any bits of shell.
  2. In a large bowl, combine celery, minced chives, mayonnaise, egg, mustard, and hot sauce; mix well trying not to break up lump crab.. Add crab and 1/4 cup panko; stir gently just to mix.
  3. Put remaining 1 cup panko in a shallow bowl. Shape crab mixture into 6 to 8 cake. Turn each cake in panko to coat on all sides, pressing gently to make crumbs adhere. Place cakes slightly apart in an oiled 12- by 17-inch baking pan.
  4. Bake in a 475° regular or convection oven until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. With a spatula, transfer crab cakes to a platter. Spoon a dollop of Saffron Aioli onto each cake. Garnish platter with fresh chives. Serve hot.

Saffron Aioli Ingredients

  • Tiny pinch saffron threads, about 20 strands
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons warm water
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup “Georgia” extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

In a small bowl, soak the saffron threads in the warm water for 20 minutes. In a deep bowl, combine the egg yolks, garlic, and salt, and whisk to combine. Very slowly, dribble in the olive oil, whisking all the time. You can add the oil a bit more quickly after about half has been absorbed, but go very slowly at first or the mayonnaise may “break.”

Add the saffron and its soaking water, then use the lemon juice to swirl around in the saffron-soaking bowl to catch any remaining saffron essence. Whisk the lemon juice into the aioli. Add a few grinds of pepper. The aioli should be made at least 4 hours before using, and will keep, refrigerated, for up to 48 hours.

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