Chef Ris Lacoste
The 1789 Restaurant
Washington D.C.

Ris Lacoste is Executive Chef of The 1789 Restaurant. One of her most prized cooks, Blanca Mejillas, makes these delicious crab cakes every day. Rumor has it, the recipe came from one of 1789’s earlier chefs circa 1988. Neale, the restaurant’s purchaser, claims it has been adjusted with each chef.
As you can see, it’s a family affair!

In addition to the "traditional" crab cake ingredients, these crab cakes stand out due to a tasty garlic-shallot-chile paste, which complements the subtle crab flavors, while acting as a thickener.

The 1789 Restaurant's Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

Twenty-five 3 1/2-ounce cakes

  • 5 pounds jumbo lump crabmeat
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Chesapeake Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1-1 1/2 cups ground oyster crackers
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

    Garlic-Shallot-Chili Paste

  • 10 garlic cloves, chopped coarsely
  • 5 shallots, chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • Olive oil for sautéing

    For the garlic-shallot-chili paste, sauté the shallot and garlic without browning them and purée in a blender - can be made ahead and stored (covered) in the refrigerator. Combine with the chili powder and add a generous amount of olive oil, stirring constantly. The mixture should have a burnt orange color and should be very paste-like. Add more olive oil to make a thicker paste.

    For the crab cakes, carefully pick shells from crabmeat and drain in a colander to remove excess liquid. Gently combine with garlic-shallot-chili paste and all remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Shape into loose cakes and refrigerate to set a little before sautéing. In a sauté pan, sauté the crab cakes until golden brown.

Chef Lacoste changes the preparation for the crab cakes seasonally. This spring she is serving the crab cakes with tartar sauce, cole slaw and potato crisps. In the winter, the sides include celeriac remoulade, mustard crème fraîche and melted leeks.