Low Carb Crab Cakes – are they possible? When we lived in the Eastern part of the United States we frequently traveled to Baltimore for vacation. We loved going to a little restaurant called “Eat Bertha’s Mussels.” Not only did they have superb mussels with special sauces, but their crab cakes were simply the best! Lumps of fresh crab, the perfect seacoast seasonings, and a flavor so distinctive that just mentioning them tempts the taste buds. As with many classic recipes, we decided to simply eliminate the bread, add a few tweaks to the spices, and produce a delicious low-carb version. We love this seafood recipe!
Our motive for this post? We recently saw a post on our community bulletin board from a resident who was looking for a top notch seafood restaurant in our part of the Southwest. Someone else responded that they should first “look for a state that is not landlocked.” We are sure they were just trying to be humorous, and we do know that seafood is more expensive here and certainly not as fresh as we would find on the Maryland shore. Nevertheless, we live in a world of planes and refrigeration; we can find ingredients like “lump crab meat.” That is the key to this low-carb seafood delight.
Our Low Carb Crab Cakes are made without the bread crumbs or bread soaked in milk. This keeps the carbs down, but it does require a tender touch and the perfect frying technique to avoid a crumbling cake. We do add a little coconut flour as a binder. It does not have the carbs of wheat bread crumbs and will also help in making sure the cakes remain whole after cooking. You could also try almond flour instead. The whole egg helps to solidify your low carb crab cake.
Crab cakes taste best with a bit of celery seasoning. We use “Old Bay” and a fresh stalk of celery, finely chopped. Worcestershire adds that anchovy seafood flavoring and we also believe a crab cake is best with some mustard in the cake. We like Dijon, but you could use a stone ground mustard or creole mustard. That tangy mustard taste in each bite is wonderful.
Finally, we like cooking our cakes in a mixture of butter and olive oil. The olive oil allows for higher heat and yields a crispy cake. The butter adds so much flavor. We suggest drizzling the cooking liquid over the cakes when served. Everything is better with butter and fat drizzled over the top. Crab cakes are no exception.
Many will swear by lemon juice on everything they make using seafood. We generally use very little; sometimes the lemon flavor overpowers the delicious seafood taste. We do like to top our low carb crab cakes with our delicious “New Orleans Style” Remoulade. Try our recipe for a low-carb version of remoulade. It offers the perfect blend of heat and tang.
We cook our vegetables first and allow them to cool before combining into our cakes. The technique we most advise is to blend everything by folding the ingredients very gently. You pay a lot more for lump crab meat than for claw or special crab meat so if you can avoid breaking up the lumps you will have a better cake. We also suggest using a nonstick pan since the cakes will be easier to flip and to preserve their shape.
If you have the time, we suggest refrigerating the crab cakes for a few hours before cooking. This will help them to hold together when cooking. Whatever you do, do not move them about once you start the cooking process. Let them go for a full three minutes on medium heat, then gently lift the cake to see if it is browned before flipping. We also recommend covering the pan with a lid to brown the second side. This will allow for thorough cooking and also preserve the moistness.
As we noted above, we serve the crab cakes hot and enhance the flavor by drizzling that butter/olive oil fat mixture over the top. After plating we like to top with a dollop of remoulade or some parsley or cilantro.
Have a cold low-carb beer, make a batch of delicious low-carb crab cakes, put on some sounds from the ocean on the stereo, and enjoy a little taste of the Eastern Shore. You will think you are in Maryland at Bertha’s – enjoy!
Low Carb Crab Cakes
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté the celery for 3 minutes, then add the chopped shallot and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In a small bowl, combine the egg, Worcestershire, and Dijon mustard, mixing until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, combine the Old Bay, parsley, coconut flour, and cooled vegetables, mixing thoroughly.
- Gently add the crab meat to the egg mixture, folding to combine. Try not to break up the crab lumps.
- Add the dry ingredients to the crab mixture, again folding gently.
- Heat the remaining olive oil and butter over medium heat in the nonstick sauté pan. Divide the crab mixture into equal parts to form 4 cakes, squeeze firmly to form a solid cake.
- We also recommend that the cakes be plated and refrigerated for a couple hours before cooking. They will hold together better.
- Place the cakes carefully in the hot oil. Cook for about 3 minutes per side until golden brown. We suggest covering your pan so they cook through. Lift an edge after three minutes. They should be browned and hold together well.
- Remove from the pan with a spatula and plate. Pour any remaining hot butter/oil sauce over the cakes once plated. Serve hot with remoulade sauce on top or on the side.