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Geoffrey Zakarian's Flavor-Packed Secret Ingredient For Crab Cakes

Geoffrey Zakarian
Geoffrey Zakarian - Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock

Crab cakes don't need much in order to shine. This dish is actually pretty easy to prepare; it all comes down to high-quality ingredients and the cooking method. Crab cakes can be broiled, baked, or fried, and the choice depends on personal preference. But most importantly, the crab should be the star of the show, with little filler and only a few flavor enhancers. Geoffrey Zakarian, a celebrity chef known for shows like "Chopped" and "Top Chef," has been cooking for decades. Hailing from New England, he knows a thing or two about crab cakes -- and adds one surprising ingredient to his recipe to get that subtle hint of heat: sriracha.

This spicy condiment adds just enough of a flavor bump to the crab cake without being overpowering, but the trick is to only add a small amount. Beyond that, the perfect crab cakes only need a few other ingredients to bring out that lump crab's mild flavor. Condiments like Worcestershire and mustard are common, paired with a few seasonings, an egg for binding, and some breadcrumbs to hold the cakes together further and help control moisture.

Read more: 13 Tips To Make Your Shrimp Taste So Much Better

Geoffrey Zakarian Adds Sriracha For 'A Little Kick'

Crab cakes with tartar sauce
Crab cakes with tartar sauce - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Crab cakes might not have much in terms of ingredients, but the condiments that are added definitely pack a punch. Sriracha is made primarily with chile peppers, sugar, and vinegar, which gives it heat with a hint of sweetness. And Zakarian says it's a must-have in any crab cake recipe.

"I use sriracha in my crab cakes," Zakarian told InsideHook. "I think good crab cakes are packed with a little kick, and I've found that sriracha holds its own against Old Bay." Old Bay is a common ingredient in crab cakes and consists of spices similar to sriracha, including paprika, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.

Zakarian also added that crab cake recipes aren't necessarily one size fits all. "Each [recipe] has its own personal flair, and you can tweak a recipe based on your own personal preferences. I love a good Louisiana-style recipe filled with Cajun spices as well. Aioli is also dear to my heart," he stated. Zakarian pairs his crab cakes with homemade aioli made from egg yolk, piquillo peppers, and mustard.

Other Ways To Build The Perfect Crab Cake

Close-up of crab cake
Close-up of crab cake - Marie Sonmez Photography/Shutterstock

The most important element of the crab cake is the meat itself. When choosing meat for crab cakes, use either lump or jumbo lump; it's fresher and milder tasting than claw meat (if making a large batch, you can mix in some claw meat to save money). And while you need certain elements to form the cake, only use what's necessary. You almost always need an egg for binding and some sort of breadcrumb. You can either use store-bought breadcrumbs or prepare your own by adding day-old white bread to a food processor along with your desired seasonings. Salty crackers, such as saltines or Ritz crackers, are a great alternative; panko breadcrumbs would work as well.

Go light on the seasonings. Fresh herbs like parsley or dill are great to add a burst of flavor, and dried spices like Old Bay are frequently used as well. Make sure to season the crab cakes with kosher or sea salt, and use condiments like sriracha, Worcestershire, or mustard in moderation, as they all have bold flavors. Finally, the cooking method is up to you; deep-fried crab cakes add a fatty flavor profile that's hard to beat. But for something lower in fat, you can broil or bake them in the oven, or pop them into the air fryer.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.