BEST OF 2012: HOW TO MAKE CRAB CAKES OR WILD SALMON CAKES (JULY 31, 2012)
Google "crab cake recipe" or "wild salmon recipe" and in 0.00004 seconds you'll have about 13,278 recipes to choose from.
The majority of these recipes, though, follow the same basic formula: combine one pound of cooked crab or salmon meat with one egg and roughly one quarter cup each of mayonnaise and breadcrumbs. (This is the base for the cakes.) It is essential the consistency is firm and holds together; otherwise, the cakes will fall apart in the pan during cooking.
So many recipes and versions exist because of the different seasonings and vegetables used as add-ins: onions, scallions, chives, peppers, parsley, dill, basil, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, dry mustard powder, paprika, salt, ground pepper, etc.
Personally, I don't use a specific recipe; I add whatever I am in the mood for, balanced by the reality of what I have on hand.
Again, the primary hurdle when making crab or salmon cakes is getting the consistency correct so they don't fall apart in the pan when cooking. If they fall apart in your hand when you are forming the cakes, you have no chance; add a little more mayo or egg. If the mixture is too gooey, add more breadcrumbs. It's a delicate balance.
I find it helpful to refrigerate the mixture before forming cakes and again before cooking for about 30 minutes (if not longer) each. I refrigerated the cakes pictured overnight and they held together perfectly when cooked; there's a chance they may have fallen apart had I tried to cook them the evening I formed them.
Don't forget to squeeze some lemon juice on top of the cakes after cooking. Also, a sauce of equal parts mayonnaise and Dijon mustard is nice for dipping.