Crab Cakes with Garlic Sauce, Dill and Fennel

INSPIRED by the salt cod fritters that are beloved all over the islands, Chef Jim Botsacos created these fresh crab cakes with a Greek accent. He serves them with a lemon-caper mayonnaise over a white bean salad.


Crab Cakes

  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh lovage or celery leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • tablespoons chopped fennel fronds plus tender stalks, or fresh dill
  • ½ cup Garlic Sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon-Caper Mayonnaise

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • cups olive oil
  • ¼ cup capers, drained and chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups toasted whole wheat bread crumbs or panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • About ½ cup olive oil for frying
  • Bean Salad with Lemon-Caper Mayonnaise
  • A few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley


Make the Crab Cakes

In a medium bowl, combine the crab, lovage or celery leaves, 1 tablespoon dill, fennel or more dill, garlic sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper and scoop 6 equal-sized portions of the crab mixture (about ¼ cup each) onto the paper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Make the Lemon-Caper Mayonnaise

With an electric mixer on low speed, beat the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and salt in a medium bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the oil in a slow, steady stream, beating until incorporated. The mayonnaise will be thin in consistency, like an easy-to-pour creamy vinaigrette, not thick like regular mayonnaise. Stir in the capers with a wooden spoon and beat for 1 minute. Season to taste with pepper and additional salt if necessary. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a shallow bowl, combine the cornstarch, flour, 1 tablespoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Put the eggs in a second shallow bowl and beat well. Combine the bread crumbs, pepper or pepper flakes and parsley in a third shallow bowl.

Remove the crab cakes from the refrigerator. Working with one portion at a time, roll it into a ball, then drop into the flour mixture and shake off any excess. Dip it in the egg, then roll it in the bread-crumb mixture, patting lightly so it adheres. Place on a work surface and press lightly to flatten.

Place a medium skillet over medium heat and add ¼ cup of the oil. When it is hot, place 3 crab cakes in the skillet and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Place on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining crab cakes, adding more oil as necessary.

Transfer the crab cakes to a baking sheet and bake until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.

To serve, divide the white bean salad among six serving plates. Place the crab cakes on top. Drizzle with the mayonnaise. Garnish with parsley, if desired.