Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
8 Aug

Crab Cakes

Note from Mark: You’re on board with the challenge, but what should you eat? No worries. The Worker Bees and I have you covered. Every Saturday and Sunday during the 30-day challenge we’ll be bringing you some delicious Primal recipes. (Sorry, no Weekend Link Love for the next few weeks!) Enjoy!


There are certain foods that people have very strong opinions about. Often, these opinions are regionally based. If you’ve ever been stuck in the middle of an argument about New York vs Chicago pizza, you know how heated the debate can get. Crab cakes also elicit a strong emotional response. Some cooks swear by Old Bay Seasoning, others use paprika. Some cooks add red pepper, others think it’s sacrilegious to use anything more than diced celery. But across the board, one ingredient seems to remains the same: breadcrumbs. You have to add breadcrumbs to crab cakes to bind them together. Or do you? Questioning these sort of food fallacies is a common practice for modern day Groks. Yes, breadcrumbs hold crab cakes together, but the main reason they’re in crab cakes is to act as filler, so restaurants don’t have to put as much crab in your cake. Making a perfectly delicious crab cake bound together solely by egg yolks is easy to do.

First, let’s talk about fresh crab. You can buy whole crabs, but already picked meat is both easier and usually not much more expensive. Some stores also sell packaged wild-caught crab meat that is pasteurized and refrigerated and slightly less expensive. (this is much different than imitation crab, which should be avoided at all costs). For crab cakes, Dungeness Crab is the most sustainable choice and Blue Crab is a good alternative. Lump meat is the bigger chunks from the body of the crab, often lighter in color with a richer texture. It’s considered the premium part of the crab and you’ll pay premium prices for it. Claw meat has more of a shredded texture – it’s less pretty, but can also be more flavorful (and it often sells for half the price of lump meat.) This recipe uses a combination of the two, for texture and flavor.


1 pound crab meat, combination of lump and claw
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot or onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
1 teaspoon lemon zest (grated off the outside of a lemon)
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup olive oil


Bundle the crab in a thin dishtowel and give it a few hard squeezes to release moisture. You’ll probably be able to get a couple tablespoons of liquid to drip out.

Whisk the egg yolks. Add the shallot, celery, dill, lemon zest, hot sauce and paprika. Gently mix this into the crab. The mixture is not going to look like it will hold together, but don’t worry.

To form the crab cakes all you need is a round cookie cutter about 2 inches wide. Using a tablespoon measurement, scoop 2 generous tablespoons of crab into the cookie cutter.

Press the crab down very firmly with your fingers. Gently lift the cookie cutter.

Using this method, you should be able to make at least a dozen crab cakes. Cover the cakes and refrigerate for one hour or more. This helps the ingredients bind together.

Preheat your oven to 375. On the stovetop, heat the olive oil in a pan. When the oil starts to sizzle, use a spatula to slide the crab cakes into the pan. Cook about 2-3 minutes on each side until they are browned and crispy. Don’t put too many in the pan at once.

Use a spatula to scoop the cakes out the pan and onto a cookie sheet. Put in the oven for another six minutes to make sure they are warmed through the middle. Garnish with dill.

The most important steps in this recipe are using the cookie cutter to shape the crab cakes and refrigerating them for at least an hour before cooking. Other than that, let your regional tastes take over. Add red pepper if you like or mustard. Play around with the seasonings. But forget all about the breadcrumbs. You won’t even miss them.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Looks like right now that shirt is MINE.

    Mike Gruber wrote on August 8th, 2009
  2. I had chicken on the grill in mind for dinner. This changes EVERYTHING. Thanks Mark!

    PrimalJewishAmericanPrincess wrote on August 8th, 2009
  3. being in maryland im well aware of the argument u speak of. this will blow some peoples mind. cant wait to try it. thanks.

    jeff wrote on August 8th, 2009
  4. Hey Mark, I think you should definitely do a Primal Recipes Book. I’m pretty basic and usually don’t get beyond grilling or frying some meat with veggies and the sort, but all this encourages me to actually get creative and think (one of the rules right? use the brain!) and realize that there is much more variety of flavors and food choices when cooking Primal stuff rather than the old rice/pasta plus what-have-you that is styled so much in Europe. Grok on and keep the good work!

    Covo wrote on August 8th, 2009
  5. oh yum !!!!

    primalmom wrote on August 8th, 2009
  6. I have to eat in a military chow hall. I don’t think that I can get those ingredients in the salad line. I will live vicariously through you all.

    Luke wrote on August 8th, 2009
  7. Those look incredibly delicious, even at 10:30 am.

    Kate wrote on August 8th, 2009
  8. I’m a Maryland native as well. I have never used breadcrumbs in mine, but Old Bay is a must in this part of the country. No celery. Mustard is a plus, even a little mayo. And Blue Crab. The egg holds everything together nicely. And, finally, fried not broiled is my favorite. Not sure why so many restaurants insist on broiling the things these days – probably the whole low fat mentality. These make me hungry just looking at them and I just made crabcakes this week!

    lbd wrote on August 8th, 2009
  9. Might just have to try these out!

    Dan Morgan wrote on August 8th, 2009
  10. I agree with Covo, a Primal Recipe Book would be great. Im a CrossFit Trainer and Im always trying to get my clients to go Primal, but among the myriad of excuses, not knowing what to cook is one of the more common ones. A recipe book would be an easy way to nix that excuse.

    Ryan wrote on August 8th, 2009
  11. Mmmmm….I love crabcakes. Possibly one of the few meals I would use as my “cheat”. Now it looks like I don’t have to!

    BrianTheCaveman wrote on August 8th, 2009
  12. Here in the Northwest with Dungeness crabs so abundant, this will be a great recipe to have on hand, especially if I’m able to go out and trap the crabs myself.

    Jeff wrote on August 8th, 2009
  13. Crab cakes are one of my favorite things. Always had to try them at any restaurant that served them. Will definitely try this recipe. Another favorite is minastrone soup. any primal recipe for that?

    Jan wrote on August 8th, 2009
  14. Awesome. Those look fantastic. (Almost as good as I’ll look in that shirt!) 😉

    BarbeyGirl wrote on August 8th, 2009
  15. I’ll have to try these.

    juno61 wrote on August 8th, 2009
  16. Looks scary, I’ve never eaten crab in my life (I’d try though)!

    Halo wrote on August 8th, 2009
  17. My wife won’t eat anything that lives in water (maybe hydroponic veggies ;^) These seems like something I could make (and eat) by myself… Doug

    Doug Van Cleve wrote on August 8th, 2009
  18. I make similar cakes with canned tuna. Works when you cant get the fresh stuff.

    KevinC wrote on August 8th, 2009
    • Canned salmon works well too.

      Jeffrey K wrote on August 8th, 2009
  19. i’ve never been a big seafood fan, but this post made me hungry for some! looks really good.

    joshua76 wrote on August 8th, 2009
  20. More crab…less bread…sounds better than the standard crab cakes I’ve grown to love!

    sarahbb wrote on August 8th, 2009
  21. WOW… that is some serious food art for the ingredients picture. Very nice!

    Michael - Fat Loss Reviews wrote on August 8th, 2009
  22. Sounds tasty!

    amandamarie wrote on August 8th, 2009
  23. Ohhh…. now I am really hungry. I don’t think these would make an appealing breakfast though. Hmmm, maybe lunch!

    Tanya wrote on August 8th, 2009
  24. This sounds awesome… haven’t had crab cakes in a while… This should be good with a nice homemade tartar sauce:

    1 tablespoon greek yogurt
    1 tablespoon mayo
    1 scallion, finely chopped
    1/8 cup finely chopped sour pickles

    Christian Chun wrote on August 8th, 2009
    • this will be perfect.I just found an asian market that has live blue crab.

      curtis c wrote on August 8th, 2009
  25. I grew up in Baltimore and I love crab cakes. Recently,I have made similar crab cakes without the breadcrumbs and it works great. I agree with Ibd – Old Bay is a must.

    Anne wrote on August 8th, 2009
  26. Mouth watering photos! This looks like a perfect summertime dish. I look forward to seeing more, and trying them too!

    Mike H. wrote on August 8th, 2009
  27. not a huge fan of crab meat… but i’ll give it a shot.

    Jim mcbride wrote on August 8th, 2009
    • These look yummy! I’ll definitely be using this recipe to get rid of a lot of the canned crab meat that’s been sitting in my pantry!!

      Primaleater wrote on August 8th, 2009
  28. Man those look tasty. I’ve never tried crab cakes (too much planning required – me lazy!), but I might have to try it out!

    justin wrote on August 8th, 2009
  29. Mmmm, cakes!

    Ted wrote on August 8th, 2009
  30. Dear Lord that looks delicious. I think I shall try that tomorrow.

    void_provocateur wrote on August 8th, 2009
  31. mmmm…. I’ll take mine with dungeness!

    pattyst wrote on August 8th, 2009
  32. That looks amazing, I love Crab Cakes! I just grabbed 2 eggs from my Rhody Reds…Nothing like eggs from my backyard with this cious recipe! Grok On :)

    Nicola M wrote on August 8th, 2009
  33. What’s the easiest way to separate the egg yolks from the whites?

    Roger De Rok wrote on August 8th, 2009
    • I just break the egg in my hand over a bowl (just crunch the shell with your fingertips). The whites will run off your hand, between your fingers, and the shell & the yolk will remain in your palm. Learned that in a cooking class, and it feels kinda Primal too :-)

      Jeffrey K wrote on August 8th, 2009
  34. I wonder what kind of crab fisherman Grok was?

    Jeremy wrote on August 8th, 2009
  35. looks good! I love finding ways to make “old favorites” healthier!

    Jordan O. wrote on August 8th, 2009
  36. Those look amazing! Going to have to try it out.

    Robert Gioia wrote on August 8th, 2009
  37. Yum! I love finding new healthier ways of making old favorites!

    Jordan O. wrote on August 8th, 2009
  38. Ooooh, this sounds awesome. I’mma have to see if I can get ahold of some crabs, maybe around my birthday.

    GeriMorgan wrote on August 8th, 2009
  39. I’m allergic to crabs so I should get a t-shirt instead!

    Rich de Rossi wrote on August 8th, 2009
  40. I’m totally going to make this tonight. I’m also commenting on this, so I totally should win a shirt. :)

    BretMattingly wrote on August 8th, 2009

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