I love re-creating meals for clients that remind them of food they grew up with or used to eat before switching to a gluten-free or grain-free diet. One of those foods is crab cakes. These crab cakes have a golden & crispy center, while maintaining a soft and flavorful interior.
Before I get into the recipe, we need to talk crab meat. You can buy a number of different types of crab meat. In general, there are four varieties – jumbo lump, lump, backfin, and claw. For crab cakes, I recommend either lump or backfin meat (and be easier on your wallet than jumbo lump). I’ve tried out three or four brands of lump & backfin meart, and each one has a slightly different amount of moisture to them. Due to the water content, you may need to adjust the amount of binder in the recipe slightly.
If you are in the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham) area, you should check out LoMo Market, a mobile farmer’s market which brings local produce, meat, and seafood to your neighborhood or office. This is where I get my crab meat from. They supply seafood from Locals Seafood, which picks up fresh seafood from the NC coast multiple times per week.
On to the recipe! This recipe has two variations – with and without mayonnaise. These cakes are great on their own, but would be tasty with a sriracha mayo or remoulade. I usually serve them with roasted potato wedges.
- 1 cup + 1 Tbsp. lump or backfin crab meat (pack meat into measuring cup)
- 1 cup Almond meal + 1-2 additional Tablespoons if needed (I ground my own almond meal)
- 1-2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
- 2 Tsp. Old Bay Seasoning (alternatively, use 1 tsp. celery powder + 1 tsp. paprika)
- ½ tsp. salt
- pinch black pepper
- ¼ cup chopped scallions
- ¼ cup diced celery
- 2 Tbsp. minced red bell pepper
- 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice & 1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil or 4 heaping tsp. mayonnaise
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp. butter, for cooking (more if you choose)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix crab, almond meal, and chopped veggies together in a large bowl until well incorporated.
Add mustard, seasonings (except the salt), and mayonnaise or lemon/olive oil combo and mix.
At this point, add salt. I added ½ tsp., but you may need more or less depending upon the type of crab you use.
Taste prior to adding eggs. Feel free to add more Old Bay, or some cayenne if you want to kick up the heat.
Crack both eggs and stir until well mixed and set aside for 1-2 minutes. This allows the almond meal to absorb some of the liquid.
Give the batter a quick mix and check its consistency. You will want a somewhat stiff mixture that doesn’t move around too much when you push it over to one side of the bowl. If it seems too soupy or that it won’t hold it’s shape, add the additional almond meal slowly until you get the proper consistency.
Melt 1-2 Tbsp. of the butter in a stainless pan over medium heat.
When the butter is melted and begins to bubble, slowly add batter to the pan. I suggest making crab cakes approximately 2 inches in diameter, otherwise they may take too long to cook, or be difficult to flip. Each crab cake should look like a small mound of batter in the pan. I recommend making 4-6 crab cakes to start, and then you will probably have enough batter to make another 4-6.
At this point, reduce the heat to medium-low, and help the crab cakes keep their shape with two metal spoons. By moving the spoons around each crab cake, keep them fluffy and keep the edges tight so pieces of crab don’t fall out.
After approximately 3-5 minutes (or until the underside of the crab cake begins to brown), it’s time to flip. This is a crucial step to make sure your cakes stay together, so please read it before flipping.
Using a metal spatula, firmly move the spatula around the outside of the underside of the crab cake, but don’t get the spatula completely under it yet. If the crab cake looks like it’s going to fall apart, shape it and pack the sides in a little with a couple of spoons or the edge of the spatula. You might have to do this a couple of times.
After freeing up the outside edges, get the spatula underneath the crab cake, and then release it back to the pan.
Tilt the pan towards the crab cake you will be flipping so that the melted butter surrounds the crab cake. Position your spatula under the crab cake and lift it slightly. Then carefully flip the crab cake into the melted butter. Doing this ensures that the other side of the crab cake will have enough butter to cook in that it won’t stick.
Repeat step 10 with the remainder of the crab cakes, and cook for 2 minutes.
Move pan to the oven and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until crab cakes are fully cooked.
Remove pan from oven and let cool before moving crab cakes to a plate.
Repeat above steps for the rest of the batter.
Top with chopped green onion, a dash of old bay, and a squeeze of lemon juice!