Food & Drink | August 9, 2021 6:20 am

How to Make Geoffrey Zakarian’s New England Crab Cakes, Secret Ingredient Included

In addition to Old Bay, Chef Zakarian harnesses the power of another spicy staple

Gluten-free crab cakes
Chef Geoffrey Zakarian makes gluten-free crab cakes.
Geoffrey Zakarian

Located along Boston’s 2.5-mile-long Freedom Trail, Ye Olde Union Oyster House, the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the country, opened in 1826 and started dishing up steaming bowls of New England clam chowder a decade later.

Joining that quintessential New England dish on the menu these days are staples like the chilled lobster roll, baked stuffed clams and broiled Boston scrod. They also serve another regional classic that often gets overlooked due to its Chesapeake connections: the crab cake.

A native of the “Heart of the Commonwealth” of Massachusetts —  Worcester —  and therefore possibly biased, celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian says the crab cake never gets\ its due.

“I know people usually think of lobster when they think of New England, but crab cakes give the lobster roll a run for its money,” he tells InsideHook. “A simple but impressive dish, these are a go-to for every summer patio dinner party. To me, it all comes down to the crab meat — and the kick of flavor.”

To add some kick to his recipe for gluten-free New England crab cakes, Zakarian turns to a spicy sauce that certainly was not created in the Greater Boston area. “I use Sriracha in my crab cakes. I think good crab cakes are packed with a little kick and I’ve found that Sriracha holds its own against Old Bay,” he says. “There are so many crab cake recipes, which is actually one of the things I love about this dish. Each has its own personal flair and you can tweak a recipe based on your own personal preferences. I love a good Louisiana-style recipe filled with cajun spices as well. Aioli is also dear to my heart. The pepper adds a tasty kick while being a cooling addition to a warm crab cake.”

In addition to pairing his gluten-free cakes, which Zakarian calls “definitely award-worthy,” with aioli, the 62-year-old celebrity chef suggests a bottle of 2020 Killari Sauvignon Blanc on the side.

“I am a firm believer that seafood and sauvignon blanc go hand in hand,” he says. “The Killari in particular is a great addition. It has lovely lemon, lime and tropical fruit notes that pair well with the saltiness and the spiciness of the crab cakes and bring out the freshness of the dish. I find everything tastes a little better with the right wine. This sauvignon blanc pairs so perfectly with this recipe and turns this delicious dish into a fan-favorite meal.”

Feeling crabby? Try your hand at Zakarian’s recipe, which we’ve printed below.

Geoffrey Zakarian’s Gluten-Free Crab Cakes

Ingredients for the aioli

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 piquillo peppers, seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove Juice of
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • Salt and pepper

Ingredients for the crab cakes

  • 2 ounces Hellmann’s mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon country grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 egg, whole
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (Zakarian prefers gluten-free)
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ cup scallions, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chives, minced
  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

Directions for the aioli

  1. Squeeze the juice from the grilled lemons, removing the seeds.
  2. Place the egg yolk, garlic, piquillo peppers, and mustard in a small food processor with the lemon juice.
  3. Slowly add the canola oil in a steady stream until combined.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Thin with water if needed.

Directions for the crab cakes

  1. Combine the mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Sriracha hot sauce, egg, garlic, Old Bay seasoning, salt, breadcrumbs, and lemon.
  2. Fold in the remaining ingredients and form into eight even cakes. Return to the fridge for one hour to firm.
  3. Heat the canola oil over a medium-high flame in the 12” cast-iron skillet. Add the crab cakes and caramelize for about 3 minutes on each side.
  4. Serve with the aioli.