How to make crab cakes

These simple crab cakes are easy to make and luxurious to eat. Serve them as appetizers or alongside a big, crisp salad and some garlic bread for a meal that feels celebratory.

This recipe is all about highlighting the star ingredient, with just enough supporting ingredients to let the seafood really shine through. We love the technique of baking, rather than frying the crab cakes, which allows you to achieve a pleasingly crisp exterior without the mess of frying or the risk of greasiness.

Best trick of all? You can form the crab cakes ahead of time and refrigerate them — for 30 minutes or up to several hours — before baking. The resting period helps them firm up and lets the flavors meld.

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Baked Crab Cakes

Serves 3 to 4

Ingredients:

1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus more for greasing the pan)

¾ cup finely diced onion

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

3 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs (or your favorite homemade or packaged breadcrumbs)

1 teaspoon dry mustard

¼ cup finely chopped parsley

Zest of 1 lemon

1 egg

3 to 4 tablespoons mayonnaise

¾ pound lump crab meat

Optional garnishes: lemon wedges, sea salt or chile flakes, finely chopped chives and tartar sauce, remoulade or cocktail sauce

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in saute pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until softened and golden. Add a pinch of salt, the garlic powder and Old Bay seasoning and saute for another 30 seconds to a minute.
  2. Transfer onions to a mixing bowl and add the bread crumbs, dry mustard, parsley and lemon zest.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and 3 tablespoons mayonnaise until smooth. Add it to the breadcrumb mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. Add the crab and fold it in gently until combined. The mixture should hold together in a loose ball, when gently squeezed. Add an additional tablespoon of mayonnaise, if needed, to help the mixture hold together. Divide mixture into 6 crab cakes, handling them as gently as possible. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to several hours.
  5. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly drizzle a sheet tray with oil and place it in the oven to preheat.
  6. When the oven is hot, gently transfer the crab cakes to the hot sheet tray and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden on the bottom. Flip and bake 5 to 10 minutes more, until the other side is lightly crisped. Serve hot with garnishes and condiments of choice.
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San Francisco food writers Stacie Dong and Simran Singh’s blog, A Little Yumminess (www.alittleyum.com), focuses on family food adventures and recipes with a global twist.

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How do you cook Maryland crab cakes?

These easy Maryland crab cakes are lightly fried. Not deep fried because I’m sure they would fall apart, but just a few tablespoons of oil in a skillet will do it. I know some people get a little nuts-o and try grilling them. You can, but you’re going to still need to put them on a solid surface (not on the grill directly) and control your heat well.

Easy Maryland crab cakes in a skillet

Other tips for your Maryland crab cakes

  • You’ll want to chill your mixture in the fridge before cooking it so they will firm and hold up when you cook them. Remember your crab cakes will be delicate so avoid pushing them around a lot and let them get a crust on one side before you flip them.
  • The crab is already cooked when you start, so please don’t cook these to death. You only need to heat them through and get them to set.
  • Feel free to add fresh herbs (I love some parsley in mine sometimes) if you like them.
  • Don’t skip the Old Bay Seasoning. You can find it in the spice aisle in a yellow tin. It’s also great in my salmon patties.

Easy Maryland crab cakes in a skillet

  • 1/3 cup celery finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 6-ounce cans white crab meat drained
  • 1 6-ounce can lump crab meat drained
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs gluten free works well too
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil for frying
  1. Heat a 9-inch skillet over medium-high. Add the olive oil and the celery. Cook until just softened, stirring often–about 4 minutes. Set aside. 

  2. In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, Old Bay, egg, mustard and lemon juice. 

  3. Add the crab meat and stir gently so you don't break up your crab too much. 

  4. Add the bread crumbs and salt and mix again gently.

  5. Refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes so the mixture can firm slightly. When chilled, form 5 to 6 patties about 1 inch thick. 

  6. To fry: heat the same 9-inch skillet over medium high heat. Add the vegetable oil and add the patties three or four at a time to the skillet. Cook on one side until golden brown–about 4 minutes. Flip gently and cook 4 minutes more on the other side. 

  7. Serve with your favorite sauce or just eat them straight up! 

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Calories 154 Calories from Fat 144 Total Carbohydrates 2g 1% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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