Crispy Crab Cakes with Tomato Butter

The late chef Patrick Clark's crab cakes at Tavern on the Green were legendary, taking on a pop of flavor from chopped fresh jalapeño and a crispy exterior from panko. Chopped whitefish provides the structure in these crab cakes, offering more flavor and a richer texture than traditional binders like breadcrumbs. Look for plastic tubs of jumbo lump crabmeat; it's fresh and unpasteurized with the cleanest taste and best texture. If whitefish is unavailable, substitute sea bass or cod.

Crispy crab cakes with tomato butter
Photo: Jennifer Causey
Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 10 mins


  • 4 ounces skinless whitefish fillet

  • 3 jalapeños, seeded, divided

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 pound fresh jumbo lump crabmeat, drained and picked over

  • 1 1/2 cups panko

  • 6 small plum tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored and halved

  • 3 medium shallots, chopped

  • 3 medium garlic cloves, chopped

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 2 cups chicken stock

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

  • 2 cups mixed fresh summer herbs (such as basil, mint, and flat-leaf parsley)

  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Process whitefish in a food processor until mostly smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Finely dice 1 jalapeño; add to bowl with fish. Stir in mayonnaise, scallions, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and cayenne. Gently fold in crabmeat, leaving lumps intact. Divide mixture into 8 portions (about 1/3 cup each); shape into 3-inch-wide, 1/2-inch-thick patties. Sprinkle both sides of patties generously with panko to coat completely; press lightly to adhere. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

  2. While patties chill, stir together tomatoes, shallots, garlic, 1 tablespoon oil, and remaining 2 jalapeños in an ovenproof skillet. Roast in preheated oven until tomatoes collapse, about 15 minutes. Remove skillet from oven, and transfer to stovetop over medium. Add stock, and cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated and mixture is reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to a blender. Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over opening. Process, gradually adding butter pieces through opening, until mixture is smooth and butter is combined. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; keep sauce warm.

  3. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Working in batches, cook crab cakes until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack.

  4. Toss herbs with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread about 1/3 cup sauce on each of 4 plates; top evenly with herb salad and crab cakes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Suggested Pairing

Bright, chalky Chablis.

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