No one can really explain cravings. When you have one, you either acknowledge it and move on or you give in completely and indulge. Yesterday’s craving? Crabs, or more specifically crab meat because I wasn’t about to try starting a crab boil last night.
Not that I’m opposed to a good crab boil, mind you. When I was a kid visiting my grandparents in Savannah–during that typical childhood exile where your parents gladly get rid of you for a few weeks–my grandfather would wake us up at dark o’clock to go crabbing. I’d start out with a bucket shaped crab pot, but once I got good at it I could dip a single weighted line with bits of chicken on it and slowly draw up one crab after another. Even if we initially argued at getting up so early in the morning to spend it out on a boat, we couldn’t argue with the results and headed home with quite a haul to be boiled, seasoned, cracked and devoured. It was a family event and since then, it isn’t really fun for me unless you’re sitting around a newspaper-covered table and gabbing away while picking sometimes the tiniest amount of meat out of the shells.
Still, the craving demanded attention, so I did the next best thing and planned on a trip to the market for crab meat. I was just going to steam it in some Old Bay and snack on it with clarified butter, but after a few minutes searching I found a recipe for Baked Maryland Lump Crab Cakes. I’m certainly not anti-fried foods, but in my own house I am pretty anti-frying, so any recipe that produces a good “oven-fried” result works for me. And with this recipe, the results weren’t so bad!
If I’d been thinking, I would have pan-seared the crab cakes before popping them in the oven to bake, but they still turned out nicely cooked and browned. And ignoring my photo efforts, this recipe isn’t time-sensitive. While it’s nice to have everything out and ready to dump in the bowl, this is a “dump it in the bowl” recipe. Mix wet stuff, fold in crab meat, mix dry stuff, fold it in, form cakes.
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay™ or seafood seasoning of choice
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3/4 cup cholesterol-free egg product
- 1 pound lump crab meat
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease a baking sheet.
- Combine bread crumbs, baking powder, parsley, mustard powder, pepper, and seafood seasoning; set aside. Stir together mayonnaise, butter, Worcestershire, and egg product until smooth. Fold in crab meat, then fold in bread crumb mixture until well blended.
- Shape mixture into 12 crab cakes, about 3/4 inch thick, and place onto prepared baking sheet.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn the crab cakes over, and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until nicely browned.
My modifications were using claw meat instead of lump as it was less than half the price but needed a bit more flaking with a fork to separate the meat before adding it in. I used a 1/3 cup measuring spoon to form my cakes so only ended up with about 6 large cakes, not 12. After the first flip, I raised the oven to 400° F because they were looking a little pale. They browned up much better at the higher temperature.
I wasn’t really thinking what to serve them with or atop them when I was shopping, but I tossed together a tablespoon of mayo with one or two minced (then crushed/pulverized) cloves of garlic, some Old Bay and a sprinkle of paprika for color as a quick accompaniment. The way these spread out while baking would make them great for crab cake sandwiches as well.
I’d definitely make these again, and they look as though they would travel well either pre- or post-baking. Since crab meat is usually sold ready-to-eat, the only concern is getting the egg (product) cooked and they’re yummy fresh out of the oven or as a later Nigella-style fridge snack. These won’t replace some of the best crab cakes around DC or even the best I’ve ever had at Stoney’s, but it’s a good (and easy) recipe to have under my belt. However I’m betting there are some other good crab cake recipes out there too. Feel free to share them in the comments. Enjoy!