Crab Cakes with Mustard Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes



Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

I’ve eaten crab cakes at Obrycki’s in Baltimore, Harris Crab House in Grasonville, Maryland, King Neptune’s in Gulf Shores, Alabama, The Wreck in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and dozens of other celebrated Southern crab houses, but the only ones that could touch Louis Osteen’s small wonders at his restaurant on Pawleys Island, South Carolina (made today with both crab and lobster) were the simple cakes served at Jimmy Cantler’s Riverside Inn in Annapolis, Maryland. “Just crabmeat, mayonnaise, a few bread crumbs and onions, and seasonings,” was all the waiter would volunteer in the way of a recipe, so I had to depend on my taste buds and imagination to reproduce these appetizer cakes. You can certainly serve them without the mustard sauce, but I think the sauce gives them a real flair without detracting in the least from the sweet crabmeat. To keep the cakes light as a feather, mix them very gently.


The Mustard Sauce

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

The Crab Cakes

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced scallions
  • 3 tablespoons finely crushed soda crackers
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pounds fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • ¾ cup fine bread crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter


To make the mustard sauce, combine the butter, lemon juice, egg yolks, and black pepper in a heavy saucepan over low heat and whisk rapidly and constantly till the mixture thickens. Whisk in the water, remove pan from the heat, and let cool slightly. Add the mustard and whisk till the sauce is well blended and smooth. Keep warm.

To make the crab cakes, combine the mayonnaise, egg white, lemon juice, scallions, cracker crumbs, and cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl and whisk till well blended. Add the crabmeat and toss very gently. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and gently shape each into a small but fairly thick patty. Spread the bread crumbs on a baking sheet and coat the patties lightly but securely. Chill the patties, covered, at least 1 hour.

When ready to serve, heat the butter in a large, heavy skillet, add the crab cakes, and sauté over moderate heat 3 minutes on each side or till golden brown. Serve each cake with about 1 tablespoon of the mustard sauce spooned over the top.