Easy Dungeness Crab Cake Pairing

December marks the opening of the Dungeness Crab season here on the West Coast of California, and this month, we paired our Seebass Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay with fresh-baked crab cakes.

Caught the night before off the West Coast, and boiled fresh that morning, we started with the freshest crab from the sustainable local fishery opening earlier this month.  After cleaning, we harvested every last morsel of crab meat, mixed it with a little mayonnaise, dijon mustard, a dash of hot sauce, fresh, finely-diced celery, and organic chives from the garden.  Using egg to bind it together, we breaded the individual cakes in Panko breading and then popped them in the oven.  From the oven onto the serving plates, we topped them with a dollop of homemade roasted red pepper-chive aioli sauce and served them with a glass of our chardonnay.

Our recipe steers clear of finely-shredded and the almost-cheesy texture you might associate with typically fried crab cakes.  This pairing has been a family favorite for years, and our 8 year old son Aidan’s favorite birthday “cake.”  By contrast, this delicious, locally-sourced starter shines with large chunks of fresh crab meat and a bright flavor that sings a harmonious duet with the Seebass Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay.

12 ounces shelled cooked crab
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
Roasted Pepper-Chive Aioli (recipe follows)
Fresh chives, rinsed and cut into 1-inch lengths


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 with a fork. 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 24 cakes, each about 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. 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 Roasted Pepper-Chive Aioli onto each cake. Garnish platter with fresh chives. Serve hot.

Roasted Pepper-Chive Aioli. In a small bowl, mix 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup chopped drained canned roasted red peppers, 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Note: The Japanese-style coarse bread crumbs called panko are available in many well-stocked supermarkets and in Asian grocery stores. You can make the aioli up to 2 days ahead and the crab cakes through step 3 up to 4 hours ahead; in both cases, cover and chill.

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