Crab Cakes with Tartare Sauce

2:23 am on 6 October 2009

Crab cakes have featured numerous times on the menu at Logan Brown since opening in 1996. I’m convinced they are a favourite with our loyal customers because they enjoy the subtle sweetness of the crab, with all the tricky work of extracting the delicate flesh from the shell done for them. We have always sourced our fresh crab meat from the nearby Kapiti Coast where our friends Matt Whittaker and Narina McBeath of Waikanae Crab Farm have been fishing for paddle crab for many years.

The secret to a great crab cake is to have a generous amount of crab, with just enough other ingredients to add a little flavour and barely enough binding component to hold the cakes together when cooking. Tartare sauce has always been my condiment of choice with these, adding just the right amount of acidity along with the creaminess of mayonnaise.

(Serves 6 as an entrée - 12 crab cakes)


Tartare sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped capers
  • 2 tbspfinely chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped gherkins
  • ¼ cup finely chopped green capsicum
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • ½ tablespoon finely chopped tarragon (if fresh tarragon isn’t available, try basil or just add more parsley)
  • 2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crab cakes

  • canola oil for frying
  • ¼ cup finely diced celery
  • ½ cup finely diced green capsicum
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • ½ tablespoon minced garlic
  • 500g crab meat
  • ¹⁄³ cup s mayonnaise
  • 1 tspn lemon juice
  • ½-¾ cup breadcrumbs, plus extra to coat the cakes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To cook and serve

  • cooking oil
  • 6 lemon wedges to serve


Tartare sauce

Place the mayonnaise in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, except the salt and pepper then, with a wooden spoon, stir together to combine. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Pour into a suitable container and refrigerate until required.

Crab cakes

Add a little oil to a saucepan and, over low heat, sweat the celery, capsicum, onion and garlic for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the vegetables are soft, remove and cool to room temperature.

In a medium mixing bowl, place the cooked vegetables, crab meat, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Mix to combine. Add the breadcrumbs and stir through to firm up the mixture.

Taste and season accordingly. Divide the mixture into 12 then, with your hands, mould into cakes and lightly cover with the extra breadcrumbs.

To cook and serve

Preheat the oven to 120 C. Place a little cooking oil in a sauté pan on medium heat. Cook the crab cakes for a minute or so on each side until golden. Remove from the pan, place on an oven tray and put in the oven for 3-5 minutes to heat through the centres.

To serve, place a couple of crab cakes in the centre of each plate, add a dollop of tartare sauce and a wedge of lemon on the side. Serve.

Paddle crabs are widely distributed on most sandy beaches throughout New Zealand. You don’t need a boat or expensive equipment to target this wonderful delicacy.

A collapsible crab pot at the cost of $30 or $40, a fish head or a chicken frame for bait and you’re away.

Suggested wines to complement this recipe

Sauvignon Blanc
Distant Land 2009

Cloudy Bay 2007