From America's Test Kitchen Season 4: East Coast Seafood
Making crab cakes at home is the only way to avoid the pricey crab-flecked dough balls that pass for crab cakes in many restaurants. We wanted cakes with a crisp brown exterior and creamy, well-seasoned filling that tasted of sweet crab, not filler.
Fresh crabmeat provided the best taste and texture; we think jumbo lump crabmeat is worth the high price tag. Pasteurized crabmeat is not quite as good, but it is less expensive. At all costs, avoid the canned crabmeat sold near canned tuna. After experimenting with different binders, we settled on fine dry bread crumbs; their flavor is mild, they held the cakes together well, and they mixed easily with the crab. We used just a few tablespoons of crumbs so that the crab’s flavor and texture would shine. An egg and some mayonnaise bound the cakes together. Old Bay is the traditional seasoning for crab, and there was no reason to leave it out; some herbs and white pepper were the only additions we found necessary. Carefully folding the ingredients together rather than stirring them kept the texture chunky rather than pasty, and a short chilling in the refrigerator ensured that the cakes wouldn’t fall apart. Pan-frying in vegetable oil gave our crab cakes the crisp exterior we wanted, and the interior tasted intensely of crab.
The amount of bread crumbs you add will depend on the crabmeat’s juiciness. Start with the smallest amount, adjust the seasonings, then add the egg. If the cakes won't bind at this point, then add more bread crumbs, one tablespoon at a time.