Friday, July 5, 2013

Low Carb Fines Herbes Crab Cakes with a Dijon, Champagne Vinegar, Maple Syrup Sauce

Fines herbes doesn't have to mean fine dining...

unless you throw in some crab.  And then you might as well bring out the good china.

So, what are fines herbes, and how do pronounce it, anyways?


Bonus points if you say it with a French accent and are wearing a beret.

Fines herbes are a blend of herbs traditionally used in French cooking.  And while, there is no exact "recipe," the blend typically consists of fresh parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil.  It can also include marjoram, which I tried fresh for the first time, and have to admit it smelled a bit like soap.  An interesting herb, but I recommend if you use it, to keep it at a minimum.

And keep the cooking time to a minimum, too.  Fines herbes are best used with foods with delicate flavors like omelets, fish dishes and vinaigrettes.  And unlike their counterpart herbs, like rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and basil, which release their flavors with long cooking times, fines herbes... well, are just a bit more sensitive... to heat and to the palate.

So why use them in a crab cake?

I wanted to make a low carb crab cake that was so full of flavor that you wouldn't even miss the bread crumbs.  First, I blended those delicate and refreshing herbs with some creaminess from the mayonnaise and richness from the egg yolk.  Then some lemon juice for acidity, and even a bit of red pepper flakes to add a touch of spice.  And some good quality crab meat (check out your local farmers market where you can often find it fresh!) 

Next, I needed a binder.  And while some low carb recipes use Parmesan cheese to replace the bread crumbs, I opted for Asiago.  Asiago is a less expensive cheese that is made from cow's milk and is actually produced in the USA, even though it's named after a village in Italy.  And while in most situations, I'd always choose Parmesan, with crab cakes, the Asiago cheese added a milder flavor, and didn't compete as much with the delicate herbs and sweet and light flavor of the crab.

And finally, I chose one of my favorite sauces, just to drizzle on the plate and add a touch of depth of flavor and sweetness.  Perfectly balanced, my Dijon, Champagne Vinegar, Maple Syrup Sauce is not only delicious, but adds a bit whimsy as well.

So, what if you're short on cash?  This recipe will also work well with tuna, salmon, or even imitation crab.

Crab Cakes:

16 oz. cooked crab meat, picked over for shells, etc.
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh chives, minced
1/4 teaspoon fresh marjoram, chopped (if you can't find marjoram, try using 1/4 teaspoon thyme)
1/2 teaspoon tarragon, chopped
1/4 teaspoon old bay seasoning
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1/3 cup Asiago cheese, grated
Olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

In a mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, egg yolk, fresh herbs, seasoning and lemon juice.  Fold in the crab meat and Asiago cheese.  Form into about 5 patties (they will be a bit loose, so be careful)

Place crab cakes in large skillet with melted butter and a bit of olive oil as needed.  Pan fry on first side for about 2-3 minutes until browned and then flip over.  Continue cooking on second side for about a minute.

For the sauce:

1/2 c. vegetable broth
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Olive oil
Sea or Kosher salt and Pepper

In a medium skillet, add broth, mustard, vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and then simmer for about 8 min. or until thickened.


  1. G'day! Your recipe and especially your photo looks GREAT, TRUE!
    Can't wait to put this on my list to do!
    Cheers! Joanne

  2. Thank you so much Joanne! It was a fun recipe to play around with, especially all the fresh herbs!

  3. Thank you for your lesson about fine herbes,Diana. Great info! Great looking crab cake, too.

    Clever of you to use Asiago as a binder =)

    1. Thanks Kim! Appreciate you stopping by! :-)

  4. Your crab cakes are picture perfect! And thanks for introducing me to your marvelous sauce sounds terrific, too!

    1. Thank you Liz! I've used the sauce (with chicken broth) with Cornish Hen and Pork Loins too.. it's really yummy! :-)

  5. I LOVE crab cakes, Di! One of these days I should treat myself to real crab cakes at home. Until then, I'm going to make a salmon version of this. It sounds delicious! Thanks for the tips on the fines herbs (I'm saying that to myself in a French accent, lol).

    1. LOL... I love that you're using the French accent ;-) And salmon would be perfect for these too!!!


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