Pumpkin Crab Cakes

The earthy, buttery and slightly sweet flavors of roasted pumpkin perfectly complement the natural ocean brine of crab meat in these truly unique crab cakes.

By Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet
Serves 6
Image of Pumpkin Crab Cakes

  • 1 sugar pie pumpkin, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, scrubbed clean
  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut to 1/8-inch dice
  • 3 scallions, white and light green parts only (the bottom third), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup standard bread crumbs
  • 2/3 cup Panko (crunchy Japanese bread crumbs), plus more for coating the finished crab cakes
  • 1 pound steamed crab meat (if you buy it in a can, get some that has to be kept refrigerated)

For the Spicy Mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 chipotle chile (from a can with adobo sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • Pinch of salt

Prepare the grill for indirect cooking at 500°F.

Wash the pumpkin. Cut away and discard the stem. Quarter the remainder and scrape away all the seeds and pulp. Place the pieces in the indirect cooking zone with the shell-sides down and roast with the hood closed until tender, about 40 minutes.

Remove the pumpkin pieces from the grill. Peel away and discard the outer shell, and cut the flesh into small pieces. Small sticks about 1/4 x 1/4 x 5/8 – inch are ideal, but not critical. Reserve.

Roast the poblanos directly over the hottest part of the fire, turning until the skins are blackened all around. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a plate to let them steam for about 5 minutes. Scrape away and discard the burnt outer skins. Stem and seed the chiles, finely chop and reserve.

Adjust the grill for direct grilling over a medium fire, about 400°F.

Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl. Add the butter, mayonnaise, ginger and lemon zest. Crush in the garlic using a garlic press. Whisk to combine. Add the red pepper, poblanos, scallions and both types of bread crumbs. Stir together. Fold in the crab meat and roasted pumpkin.

Form the crab cake mixture into equal-sized balls, pressing them firmly together with your hands. (If you find the mixture too dry to stick together, stir a little more mayonnaise into the bowl. If it is too wet, add some more standard bread crumbs.) Put a generous amount of Panko on a plate. Press each crab cake ball into the Panko to flatten, then flip it over to coat the other side. Use your fingers to pack in the edges, forming neat, flat, round cakes that will stay together on the grill.

Let the crab cake patties rest for a few minutes while you prepare the sauce. Combine all the Spicy Mayonnaise ingredients in a blender (or food processor) and puree until smooth. Reserve.

Grill the crab cakes in the direct zone, turning once until cooked through and nicely marked, about 10 minutes total cooking time. Serve with the Spicy Mayonnaise.