These Cape Breton snow crab cakes make for a delicious light dinner and are so quick to put together.
It wasn’t easy to say to my aunt that I couldn’t come over to her house to eat snow crab from Cape Breton because she wasn’t in my double bubble.
Nova Scotia recently announced we could extend visiting to another family household and we chose my sister’s family as she has two young sons my mother was eager to see.
But it was also a reason not to be reckless with our time outside, to keep them safe.
Yet it was so sweet for my aunt to drop off the cooked snow crab the next day so that we wouldn’t miss out on this delicacy.
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Cape Breton Snow Crab
We are ridiculously fortunate that Nova Scotia has such a wealth of fish seafood.
Our lobster season rotates around different areas of the province so we’re almost always in season.
And we have the best scallops in the world in Digby and so many other incredible fish and other seafood. It is the best part of being home.
Snow crab season in Cape Breton is a big deal because it’s actually quite short.
It usually runs late Spring to the end of June but isn’t common in Nova Scotia restaurants so you have to make it at home while it’s still possible.
This year has been a completely different operation as previously seasonal workers from countries like Mexico come in to help, and fishermen needed to take extra safety precautions to work safely.
Snow Crab vs King Crab
Snow crab doesn’t make reference to its geography in snowy Canada, but instead the snowy white colour of its meat when cooked.
Snow crab shells are easy breakable.
Some say you can do it with your hands but we have lobster crackers so why make it harder than it has to be.
The texture is fibrous and is fantastic for shredding. In fact the first thing I made was a snow crab pasta based on spaghetti aglio olio and it worked really well with bow tie pasta.
The flavour is delicate, sweet and also briny like the sea. It pairs beautifully with Nova Scotia wine.
But king crab isn’t the same. And it’s more expensive.
Also from the north, because cold water seafood is the best, Alaskan king crab is also sweet but also a richer flavour.
You absolutely need lobster crackers for king crab as the shell is thicker and has the little spikes that you’ll also find on lobster.
Nor surprisingly, it has the same chunky texture of lobster meat.
Fresh vs Frozen Snow Crab
If you can’t buy straight from a fisherman, you can buy snow crab pre-cooked and frozen.
As you don’t want to overcook snow crab (which is easy to do) I think this is a great option.
I know many people look down upon frozen fish but unless you’re getting it that day I think frozen is best as it’s usually frozen on the boat.
And in the case of snow crab it is almost always cooked on the boat or once it lands, then frozen to ensure it has optimal flavour and freshness.
But if you’re buying them fresh consider steaming them for 5 minutes. If they are uncooked and frozen steam snow crab legs for 10 minutes.
Cape Breton Snow Crab Cakes Recipe
Although I make Nova Scotia fish cakes with potato, these snow crab cakes don’t use it.
That’s because the snow crab flesh is so delicate that I think it would get lost in the potato.
So instead I used a panko crumb mixture, which makes them a bit more delicate to eat – but also to cook.
So when you’re making the base it will feel a bit wet and that’s ok.
Just be careful to gently bread them in more panko afterwards. And when pan frying, let them fully cook on one side before carefully flipping over.
This recipe also uses Old Bay seasoning, because when it doubt seafood always is fantastic with Old Bay.
I also use it in my Nova Scotia seafood chowder, which gives my grandmother’s recipe a slight lift although I don’t think she’d approve!
It is a custom spice blend but in a pinch if you don’t have it, here’s a recipe to make your own.
As it uses celery salt I did not add more salt to the mix. Remember snow crab has a briny flavour as it is.
Sriracha Tartar Sauce
My mother loves heat so I created a faux tartare sauce that only takes 1 minute to make:
Simply mix 1 tablespoon of sriracha with 1 tablespoon of sweet green relish and 1/4 cup mayonnaise
Although I know it’s not really tartar sauce, but it is a great crab cakes dipping sauce.
Freezing snow crab cakes.
Snow crab has quite a bit of moisture, which is a great thing for making light crab cakes.
Unfortunately it doesn’t freeze as well as heavier potato based crab cake recipes.
These Cape Breton snow crab cakes are a bit more delicate and would fall apart when thawing. I don’t recommend freezing them.
But they do last in the fridge for lunch the next day.
- 1.5 cups cooked snow crab meat
- 1/2 cup red pepper minced.
- 1/4 cup green onion, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh dill
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 cup panko, half for mix and half for breading cakes
- 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Mix all ingredients well, remember to keep 1/4 cup panko crumbs aside.
- Form into 12 cakes and roll in panko crumbs.
- Heat skillet over medium heat with a bit of vegetable oil. Add snow crab cakes, but do not crowd skillet as you'll need to gently flip after 1-2 minutes or when golden on each side.
- Garnish with chopped dill and serve with sriracha dipping sauce.