THANKSGIVING MENU: Seafood Appetizer

Dungeness Crab Cakes with Harissa Aioli
From Off the Hook by DL Acken and Aurelia Louvet


A note from the Danielle and Aurelia

These crab cakes are perfect for passing around as hors d’oeuvres at a party and can be fully made up to a day in advance. Make 12 bite-sized cakes instead of 6 lunchtime servings, and pop them in a 375°F (190°C) degree oven for 10 minutes to re-crisp and heat through before serving. Not a fan of harissa? Try them with Tartar Sauce or Chipotle Peach Salsa. Serves 6. 

Crab Cakes
  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • ⅓ cup (80 mL) vegetable oil, divided

  • 1½ lb (680 g) Dungeness crabmeat, well drained and all shells removed

  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped fresh chives

  • 2 tsp (10 mL) freshly cracked black pepper (for heat, optional)

  • 2 tsp (10 mL) smoked paprika

  • 2 tsp (10 mL) freshly grated lemon zest

  • 2 tsp (10 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt

  • 5 large eggs, divided

  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) water

  • 1¾ cup (415 mL) panko-style bread crumbs, divided

Harissa Aioli
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) sea salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) good-quality olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tsp (10 to 15 mL) harissa olive oil or 1 tsp (5 mL) harissa paste

In a frying pan over medium-high heat, place the diced onion and 2 Tbsp (30 mL) of the vegetable oil. Fry, stirring infrequently so that the onion begins to caramelize but does not burn, approximately 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and continue to fry until the onion is deep gold in colour. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a bowl, mix together the crabmeat, caramelized onion, chives, black pepper, smoked paprika, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sea salt. Lightly beat 3 of the eggs and add to the crab mixture along with ¾ cup of panko. Mix all together and use hands to form into 6 cakes. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

In a separate bowl, beat the remaining 2 eggs with water. Place the remaining 1 cup (250 mL) of panko in another bowl. Dip each crab cake first in the egg mixture and then in the panko. Be sure to coat the edges and both sides of the cakes with each.

Heat the remaining oil in a large, flat-bottomed frying pan over medium-low heat. Cook the crab cakes 4 minutes per side or until crispy and golden brown..

For the aioli (serve warm), using a blender or food processor, mix the egg, garlic, and lemon juice together until well combined. With the machine running, add the sea salt and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the sauce emulsifies and thickens to a mayonnaise consistency. Will keep in the fridge 3 to 4 days.

*Recipe excerpted from Off the Hook by DL Acken and Aurelia Louvet, 2018