Absolutely Crabulous

There are crab cakes. And there are crab hockey pucks.

Crab cakes have, uh, actual crab in them. In fact, the main ingredient needs to be crab.

Crab hockey pucks are those nasty, greasy little things chefs try to pass off as crab cakes, but are mostly breadcrumbs, egg and celery with a string or two of crabmeat. Most often doused in lemon mayonnaise. As a former crab cake judge (seriously, I was) I’m hereby declaring them illegal. After all, we live in the heart of Dungeness Crab Country in the heart of Dungeness Crab season. Is it that hard to make a decent crab cake around here?

Ask Josh Silvers of Syrah. He seems to have figured it out.

Josh’s Crab Cakes are a staple on the Syrah menu. Like the cheese course and the Liberty Duck breast, they’re part of the Syrah experience. Yes, they’re $15 for three patties, which goes down a little hard. But if you look at the recipe (which follows) you’ll notice that they’re almost all crab. $21-pound-crab, according to Silvers.

So what aside from a good 5-6 oz of crab (Silvers uses Dungeness and lump, depending on what’s best at the moment) sold me on Josh’s cakes?
They crumble and fall apart a bit when you cut them (this is a good thing), instead of sticking together in a spongy, bready clump. They sit on a bed of tart and tangy mustard aioli, cutting the richness of the frying, encased in a crunchy shell of Japanese panko crumbs.

And, I may have mentioned this, they are full of crab.

Those other crab cake imposters? Call the food police and just back away slowly.

Syrah Bistro, 205 Fifth Street Santa Rosa, 707.568.4002

Plus, don’t miss the Meyer lemon trifle. Pretty as a picture and tasty, too.

The recipe for Josh’s Crab Cakes-


12 oz. Fresh Crab Meat
2 Tablespoons Red Onion (finely diced)
3 Tablespoons Red Bell Pepper (finely diced)
3 Tablespoons Celery (finely diced)
1 Tablespoon Italian Parsley (chopped)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup (approximately) Best Foods Mayonnaise
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)
Peanut Oil (for sautéing)


Check crab meat for shells and place in large bowl. Add vegetables, parsley, mayonnaise and lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Then add Panko slowly until the consistency is dry and slightly tacky to the touch. Form cakes and cover with more Panko and set aside.

To Cook:

Heat sauté pan, then add oil and wait until oil is hot. Cook crab cakes until one side is brown and turn over and cook other side until brown. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel. Serve with your favorite condiments.