Gordon Ramsay's Top Tip For Perfectly Formed Crab Cakes

Gordon Ramsay smiling
Gordon Ramsay smiling - Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Chef Gordon Ramsay might be known for hosting a variety of food-based television shows, but in addition to being an easily agitated taste tester, he owns almost 90 restaurants worldwide and has earned a whopping 17 Michelin stars. When it comes to cooking seafood, Ramsay knows a thing or two. Crab cakes are often on the menu during his "Hell's Kitchen" dinner services (though he isn't always pleased with how they turn out), and he's certainly sampled enough versions of the dish during his "Kitchen Nightmares" restaurant visits through the years. Crab cakes are a staple because they're a sophisticated yet easy-to-make dish. But there is one step Ramsay never wants you to skip, and it has everything to do with forming the perfect crab cake -- shape it the night before you cook it, and let it set in the refrigerator.

Crab cakes, when made with very little filler (which is how they should be) are delicate; they fall apart easily, so in order to help them retain their shape, they need time to set. Don't skip the refrigerator step, or you could end up with a cake that falls apart during the cooking process.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

Let Crab Cakes Firm Up Overnight Before Cooking Them

Crab cakes with lemon and cornichons
Crab cakes with lemon and cornichons - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

A basic crab cake recipe contains three elements: the meat, something to bind it, and something to absorb moisture. Lump crab meat is typically used, along with a binder like eggs or mayo (often both). Seasoned panko, Ritz crackers, or even Saltines are all great options to absorb excess moisture. The binders and bread crumbs play a crucial role in the crab cake's shape. Without a binder, the cakes won't form well, and without something to absorb the moisture, they won't stay together.

Thankfully, a frigid environment (and ample time to chill out) gives the crab cakes a little extra assistance. The refrigerator will help the cakes set, making them less delicate and much easier to cook. "Now, the most important thing about making an amazing crab cake is [to] shape it [and] form it the night before," Ramsay said in a YouTube cooking demo. "Set it in the fridge, so it gets nice and firm. That way, when we flour, egg wash, [and] bread crumb it, it retains its shape."

Deep frying crab cakes is just one way to cook them, but you can also grill them, bake them, or broil them depending on your desired texture and flavor. No matter the cooking method, the rule of starting with a sturdy crab cake remains, and the longer you let your cakes set, the easier they'll be to handle when preparing them.

Other Tips For Shaping And Making The Perfect Crab Cake

Person cutting into crab cake
Person cutting into crab cake - Linda Nguyen from Austin/Shutterstock

Letting them set in the refrigerator is the best way to ensure the crab cakes stay together, but if you're working on short notice and don't have the time, you can also firm them up quickly in the freezer. You don't want the crab cakes to freeze all the way through, though, or they won't cook evenly; 20 to 30 minutes should be enough time.

When you shape those crab cakes, try to keep the crab meat as intact as possible. Rather than whisking or mixing aggressively with a spoon, don't be afraid to use your hands and fold the ingredients together; this gentler approach will keep the chunks of meat from shredding, yielding a more picture-perfect crab cake.

Jumbo lump crab meat is the best for this application, but it's also the most expensive. To cut costs a bit, you can use lump crab meat or cut your jumbo lump with a little bit of claw meat, which is less expensive at grocery stores and fishmongers. Luckily, any variety of crab meat you use will benefit from Gordon Ramsay's fridge tip when cooking your cakes.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.