Crab Cakes with Fennel, Watercress, and Blood Orange-Chive Aioli

Crab Cakes with Fennel, Watercress, and Blood Orange-Chive Aioli

These crab cakes are fresh, delicate and lightly bound with baby shrimp, which amplify the crab’s natural sweetness. Pair with California Sparkling Wine or Pinot Noir.

Makes about 12 (2-inch/5cm) cakes; serves 4 as a meal or 6 as an appetizer


Crab Cakes:
1/2 pound (225g) cooked baby shrimp
1/4 cup (60ml) panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) plus 2 cups (480ml) for dredging
1 pound (450g) lump crabmeat, picked over to remove cartilage
1 small red jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1/4 cup (60ml) finely chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons (30ml) mayonnaise
2 tablespoons (15ml) finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
1/4 teaspoon (1.25ml) freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup (60g) mayonnaise
1/2 cup (60g) Greek-style whole milk yogurt
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons (22.5ml) fresh blood orange juice
2 teaspoons (10ml) minced chives
1 teaspoon (5ml) finely grated blood orange zest
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (60g) vegetable oil for pan-frying

1 large blood orange
1 medium fennel bulb, halved, very thinly sliced crosswise
1 bunch watercress, tough stems discarded
2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon (15ml) chopped chives
1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges


In a food processor, pulse the shrimp to a coarse paste. Transfer the shrimp to a large bowl, add the 1/4 cup (60ml) panko and the remaining crab cake ingredients. Gently mix to combine.

Pour 2 cups (480ml) panko into a shallow bowl. With wet hands, gently form the crab into 2-inch (5cm) patties, about 3/4-inch (2cm) thick. Carefully turn the patties in the panko to lightly coat, place on a plate and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a small bowl, whisk the aioli ingredients.

Heat 2 tablespoons (30ml) oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add about half of the crab cakes, without overcrowding the pan, and pan fry until golden brown on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining crab cakes. Keep warm while you assemble the salad.

Cut a slice off the tops and bottoms of the orange. Use a sharp knife to cut away the peel and white pith. Working over a bowl to catch the juices, slice out the orange segments from their membranes. Place the segments in a large bowl and squeeze as much juice as possible from the membranes into the bowl with the juices (there should be about 2 tablespoons/30ml).

Add the fennel and watercress to the oranges. Drizzle the juices and the olive oil over the salad, lightly season with salt and pepper, and gently toss. Mound the salad on 4 serving plates and garnish with the chopped chives. Arrange 3 crab cakes next to each salad and serve with lemon wedges and the aioli for dipping.

/ Pairing Suggestions

Showing 1 - 10 of 31 results
  • Barbera

    Pair with smoked salmon, grilled mozzarella and prosciutto, and flatbread with fresh tomato, basil and roasted garlic. 

  • Cabernet Franc

    Pair with a classic beef stew, aged Gouda, and rosemary-rubbed pork tenderloin.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

    Pair with grass-fed beef, whether grilled, roasted, braised or stir-fried.

  • Chardonnay

    Pair with white fish, shellfish and free-range chicken – especially with creamy, buttery sauces.

  • Chenin Blanc

    Pair with seared scallops, chicken in coconut curry, or sliced ripe pears with fresh or slightly aged sheep’s milk cheeses.

  • Dessert wines

    Pair with nuts—almonds and hazelnuts—as well as chocolate tortes, vanilla custard, peach cobbler and ricotta cheesecake. In general, aim to pair sweet dessert wines with sweet desserts, and light dessert wines with light desserts.

  • Gewürztraminer

    Pair with smoked white fish, spicy stir-fried dishes, or slightly sweet desserts.

  • Grenache

    Pair with any grilled shellfish as well as salami, sliced ham and other charcuterie.

  • Grenache Blanc

    Pair with crab, squid, or clams with garlic butter as well as grilled snapper with lemon zest.

  • Malbec

    Pair with classic rack of lamb, beef fajitas, and roasted root vegetables.

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