You may love the crab cakes you get at your favorite seafood restaurant and wonder if you can recreate the savory dish at home. The best way of cooking crab cakes that have already been prepared may depend on who prepared them. Crab cakes are usually pan fried or baked in the oven.
How you cook prepared crab cakes may depend on your recipe or brand. Traditionally, crab cakes are pan-fried, but you can also bake them in the oven. Whichever method you use, be sure to cook crab cakes until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
What Are Crab Cakes?
Like casseroles, stews and meat loaves, crab cake recipes were developed many years ago as a method for extending the protein, according to the Food Timeline. While no crab cake recipe is the same, the basic ingredients include crab meat, bread or breadcrumbs, a moistening agent such as mayonnaise or eggs to bind the patty together and various herbs, spices and flavorings.
Given that crab cakes can vary depending on the maker, so can the nutrition. Your prepared crab cakes may contain a list of ingredients beyond the basics, especially the frozen varieties.
According to nutrition information provided by the USDA, one brand of frozen crab cakes contains various types of seafood including pollock and squid along with the crab meat, as well as potato starch and artificial crab flavor. A 3.5-ounce serving of this frozen crab cake has 165 calories, 12 grams of protein, 6 grams of total fat, 15 grams of carbohydrates and 825 milligrams of sodium.
You can even find frozen crab cakes that contain no crab meat at all. According to the USDA, one brand of frozen crab cake contains crab surimi, which is a mix of pollock, whiting, cornstarch, artificial flavorings and many other ingredients. A 3.5-ounce serving of this crab cake contains 211 calories, 10 grams of protein, 16 grams of total fat, 10 grams of carbohydrates and 535 milligrams of sodium.
In addition to the long list of ingredients, these prepared crab cakes contain a significant amount of sodium. Americans already consume an excess amount of sodium, according to the American Heart Association, which contributes to high blood pressure and increases the risk of heart disease.
Ideally, you should be limiting your daily sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams or less. Your prepared crab cakes may make it difficult for you to stay within the recommended range if you're not cutting back elsewhere.
Bake or Fry Crab Cakes
When cooking crab cakes that have already been prepared, the best method is the one recommended on the box or recipe. When it comes to healthier cooking options, baking makes the better choice.
For cooking crab cakes in the oven, preheat your oven to 350 F. Coat your baking sheet with spray-on oil and place your cakes on the sheet. For thawed crab cakes, bake for 15 minutes, turning them halfway through to make sure each side is golden brown. If you're cooking crab cakes that are frozen, bake for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Baking may be healthier, but crab cakes are traditionally fried. Instead of butter or lard, saute with in a neutral-flavored vegetable oil, such as canola. Preheat your skillet over medium-high heat and add a small amount of oil. Using less oil produces a superior crab cake, according to this LIVESTRONG.com recipe. Cook your crab cakes until golden brown, about three to five minutes per side.
If you're cooking crab cakes that are frozen, be sure to thaw them in the refrigerator before frying. The temperature of a frozen crab cake may lower the temperature of your cooking oil, which may affect the quality of your crab cake.
Because crab cakes can vary in size and ingredients, you should only use the cooking times as a guide for doneness. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) suggests cooking crab cakes until they reach an internal temperature of 165 F to kill any foodborne pathogens and prevent foodborne illness.
Read more: 4 Types of Food a Pescatarian Can Eat
Making Your Own Crab Cakes
Frozen crab cakes may be convenient, but you can prepare crab cakes ahead of time and then cook when you're ready to eat them. Making your own crab cakes from scratch allows you to retain control over the ingredients, which means you can use real crab meat, whole-wheat bread or whole-grain breadcrumbs and your own seasonings to add flavor without all the sodium.
If you're not a fan of mayonnaise, consider a crab cake recipe no mayo. Instead, use milk to add moisture. Or skip the moistening agent altogether because your eggs provide moisture in addition to acting as a binding agent.
According to the USDA FSIS, when freezing food for later use. you want to freeze it as rapidly as possible. Consider placing your formed crab cakes on a baking sheet and then in your freezer, which may help them freeze faster. After about two hours in the freezer, transfer your crab cakes to a freezer-safe sealable container, and then label and date it. Your crab cakes should be consumed within two months.
- Food Time Line: "Crab Cakes"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Crab Cakes"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Crab Cake"
- American Heart Association: "How Much Sodium Should I Eat Per Day?
- Mayo Clinic: "Crab Cakes"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Freezing and Food Safety"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Refrigerator & Freezer Storage Chart"