The City Magazine Since 1975

Crab Cakes with Smoky Pumpkin Sauce

November 2020
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    2 lbs. lump blue crabmeat
    2 cups gluten-free bread crumbs or rice crumbs
    4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
    1 cup finely diced red onion
    1/3 cup finely diced shallots
    2 small Serrano peppers, finely diced
    3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    1 cup Duke’s light or regular mayo
    2 Tbs. prepared horseradish
    1 egg, lightly beaten 
    1/2 cup chopped cilantro
    2 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley
    2 tsp. grated lime zest
    1 tsp. paprika
    1/4 tsp. sea salt
    1/4 tsp. black pepper 
    Lime wedges
    Smoky Pumpkin Sauce (recipe follows)

For the Smoky Pumpkin Sauce:

    6 Tbs. canned pumpkin
    5 Tbs. Duke’s light or regular mayonnaise 
    1/4 cup cilantro leaves
    1 ancho chile in adobo sauce
    1 Tbs. olive oil
    1 Tbs. dark molasses 
    1 Tbs. aged sherry vinegar
    1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
    1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
    1 tsp. grated lime zest
    1/4 tsp. cardamom 
    Sea salt and black pepper
    Toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish


Combine the crabmeat and bread or rice crumbs in a large bowl and set aside.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, shallots, peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for three to four minutes, until translucent and softened. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Combine the mayonnaise, horseradish, egg, cilantro, parsley, lime zest, paprika, salt, and pepper and stir together. Stir in the onion mixture. Pour over the crabmeat and toss gently to combine. Shape the mixture into eight large or 16 smaller patties and place on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. At this point, the crab cakes can be covered and refrigerated overnight. 

Heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, cook the crab cakes for three to four minutes on each side, until browned and hot through. Transfer to paper towels. Serve immediately or at room temperature with lime wedges and Smoky Pumpkin Sauce. Garnish with parsley and cilantro leaves, if desired.  

For the Smoky Pumpkin Sauce:

Combine all of the ingredients except the salt and pepper in a food processor and process until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. The sauce can be served alongside the crab cakes at room temperature or microwaved for 30 seconds and served warm. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Any extra sauce can be covered and refrigerated for up to a week.