What do you do when you have so much leftover mashed potato that you’re pretty sure you’re set til Judgement Day?

You make crab cakes, that’s what you do.

The obvious answer to my leftovers dilemma was shepherd’s pie, but I was looking for something new but simple. I scoured the internet looking for a crab or fish cakes recipe that involved cold homemade mashed potato as a main binding ingredient, in order to make a dent in the extra that we made the night before. I came up with many recipes with various types and amounts of fish (usually flaky white fish such as cod or bass) or crab for protein, and various proportions of fish-to-potato, although the most common proportion I found was equal parts protein to potato. The crab cake recipe I eventually went with is simple, straightforward, and if you have the mashed potato you probably have all the ingredients on hand except for the crab, unless you either have a very well-stocked pantry or have planned well in advance for this dish (which is what I will do the next time around).

UK-Style Crab Cakes (Croquettes)

8 oz mixed crabmeat
8 oz cooked mashed potato*
2 oz (1/4 c.) plain dry bread crumbs
1 oz oatmeal, NOT instant
2 beaten eggs, separated
1/2 small onion, finely minced
1 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 Tbsp lemon juice
pinch of cayenne pepper**
salt and pepper
oil for frying***

*We theorize that thicker mashed potato is better than mash that has been thinned out too much by milk, cream, or butter; it should be a better binder for the cakes. Ours didn’t hold up to a lot of handling or keep their shape particularly well. Jim likes thinner mash so he got a little carried away when he was making them. Next time we’ll plan ahead by either making thicker potatoes, or by setting aside potato for this recipe before continuing to make regular, creamier mash.
**Not having cayenne pepper on hand, I substituted a bit of chile powder and a fair amount of paprika.
***We used grapeseed oil as suggested by Nigella for the goujons of sole, as it has a high smoke point and can be gotten up to a good temperature for pan-frying without burning. Also, grapeseed oil has an almost non-taste and makes for light, non-greasy frying with extreme crunchy texture.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the crabmeat, mash, parsley, onion, lemon juice, cayenne (or other spices), and salt and pepper to taste. Add one of the beaten eggs and mix well until the ingredients are bound.

I find that it helped at this point to refrigerate the mixture for a while to help it firm up. Give it another good mix before shaping the cakes.

Meanwhile, mix the bread crumbs and oatmeal in one shallow bowl or dish (seasoned with some freshly ground black pepper if you like), and have the second beaten egg in another shallow bowl or dish. We had a good assembly line set up on the countertop: the bowl of crab mixture, the egg, the bread crumbs/oatmeal mixture, then a clean plate for placing the formed cakes.

Flour your hands and make 8 or 9 crab cakes from the mixture. Dip each cake in the beaten egg, then in the bread crumbs/oatmeal mix, then arrange on the clean plate. I found that again I benefitted from putting the plate of formed cakes in the freezer for a few minutes while the oil heated up, to firm them up.

Heat the oil and gently fry the crab cakes, turning once, until they are brown on both sides.

Serve hot with a green salad or other sides. We had a Caesar salad. I also made Jamie Oliver’s marie rose sauce (from his recipe for prawns with old-school marie rose, which I made back in August) as a condiment, with the addition of a few drops of Tabasco — not too much since I didn’t want to overpower the flavor of the crab cakes, but just enough to add a bit of zing — for a twist.

These reheat fantastically for the next day’s lunch at one minute in the microwave.

photo by Rachel