I figured I owed you a REALLY good recipe since I’ve been absent from Idiot’s Kitchen these past few months so get ready for a doozy!
The Best Baked Crab Cakes! And to make these even more remarkable, you can easily make them gluten free. Hooray!
These are based on a recipe from the Oceanaire Seafood Room, a restaurant that I loved to go to when I lived in Minneapolis. I’m 99% sure crab cakes were the only thing I ever ordered there. Every time I would go I would think about other dishes, or about just ordering one crab cake for an appetizer, but could not resist having a full order all to myself.
I’ve made other crab cakes but these always stuck in my mind so a few weeks ago I googled Oceanaire Crab Cake Recipe and VOILA! Through the magic of the google, we have the BEST crab cakes I’ve ever made.
As a bonus – like we even need a bonus since we have delicious crab cakes – these are baked rather than fried. That makes this recipe both healthier and easier.
Here’s what you need:
Crab Meat (Lump or Claw), Eggs, Mayonnaise, Celery, Onion, Fresh Tarragon, Bread (GF or White), Butter, Old Bay Seasoning, Dijon Mustard (not pictured), Salt & Pepper.
I lucked out and my store had this crab claw meat on sale, buy one get one free. The original recipe calls for lump crab meat, but the only thing better than crab meat is FREE crab meat so claw it was. I’m sure the lump would be a more robust texture but these were pretty amazing with the claw meat.
If you can find these refrigerated containers of crab, they have a better taste and texture than the canned variety. Of course, if you are really serious about things, you could always boil some crabs and pick your own meat. Or if you have a good fish market, get your crab meat there, already picked for you. You’ll need 1 pound of crab meat.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Be sure 2 Tablespoons of butter is sitting out to come to room temperature.
We need a few veggies to add flavor so finely chop ¼ cup onion, and 2 Tablespoons of celery. You want these in very fine, tiny pieces.
Strip the leaves off a few stems of fresh tarragon and finely chop it to equal 1 teaspoon.
Yes, it is TOTALLY worth it to buy fresh tarragon for only 1 teaspoon. The flavor is subtle so please don’t use dried. You can use that extra tarragon chopped up on boiled new potatoes, in chicken salad, or my Dad’s favorite, in scrambled eggs.
Crack 2 eggs in a medium bowl and give them a quick whip with a fork to break up and incorporate the yolks.
Add 1 cup of good mayonnaise and ¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard.
Add ¾ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning and your chopped onions, celery, and tarragon.
Give this a good stir with the fork until incorporated and smooth.
Finally, a good use for gluten free bread! (I generally hate this stuff and only keep it around for making bread crumbs.) Cut the crusts off 3-4 pieces (depending on size) of bread, cut the bread into thin strips, and then into very tiny cubes.
Don’t worry if the bread isn’t perfect, we’re going to smash it in a minute, just get the cubes super small.
If you’re using regular bread, go for good old, white bread.
The recipe calls for a “scant” 2 cups of bread cubes which is just a fancy way of saying, almost 2 cups of bread cubes.
And before I hear from any of you crab cake purists, yes, I thought this was going to be way too much bread. BUT, the bread almost dissolves in the egg mixture. I promise you that these do not taste or feel like crab cakes full of filler. You don’t even know the bread is there.
Place your bread cubes in a large bowl and add just HALF of the egg mixture.
Mix it into the bread cubes and use your spoon or spatula to smash the cubes a bit into the mixture.
If your bread is still quite dry, you can add more of the egg mixture. However, I didn’t need any more than half so I ended up having to throw away the rest. This is a waste and the only thing that bums me out about this recipe. So, next time, I’m either going to make half as much dressing or make twice as many crab cakes. I’ll keep you posted.
Drain any liquid off the crab meat and quickly pick through it to be sure you don’t have any bits of shell.
Add 1 pound of crab to the bowl and gently fold it into the wet ingredients. Season very lightly with salt & pepper.
The crab mixture should be moist enough to hold together in a loose ball when formed with your hands. If your mixture is too dry, add a bit more of the dressing. Mine was fine as is.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray so your lovely crab cakes won’t stick.
Use a 2-inch ice cream scoop (cookie scoop) to portion the crab into 8 lumps or balls. You can also do this with your hands but try not to over-work or compress the crab too much. Think of these more as crab mounds…delicious crab mounds…rather than a flat cake.
To ensure that these bake to a golden brown, mix 2 Tablespoons of softened, room temperature butter with ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning. Mash the butter and seasoning together with a fork until well blended.
Please ignore that my butter got a little melted. Top each crab cake with a spoonful of the seasoned butter.
Bake at 400° for 12 minutes until golden brown.
These are best served warm right from the oven. You could prepare them ahead of time, refrigerate, then bake them right before you are ready to eat.
I served mine with a quick spinach and arugula salad and also Caprese Salad because it’s Jim’s favorite.
If you’re serving these as the meal, plan on 2 crab cakes per person. You could also make these as appetizers! I’m going to make them for Easter and experiment with making them one size smaller. Just be sure that if you make them smaller to adjust the cooking time down by a few minutes.
Now that I have the recipe for The Best Baked Crab Cakes, I’m always on the lookout for crab meat to go on sale. I might become a crab hoarder!
Here’s the recipe: Adapted from the Oceanaire Seafood room via the Los Angeles Times