For a luxurious twist on classic seafood or fish cakes, use delicately sweet lobster meat as the star ingredient. With nearly endless possible variations and a variety of cooking methods, this sumptuous dish makes an elegant addition to a celebratory meal, while a fast prep and cooking time makes them easy to include in your weeknight rotation.
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To allow the flavor of the lobster to shine through, most lobster cake recipes call for minimal ingredients. To make the most basic cake, use just enough binding ingredients to hold the lobster meat together. Common binders include egg, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and plain or panko breadcrumbs. Small amounts of additional seasoning, such as seafood seasoning, may also be included. According to The Flavor Thesaurus, some flavors that pair well with the sweet taste of lobster include bell pepper, basil, celery, dill, garlic and citruses, such as lemon and lime. If you choose to make an Asian-inspired lobster cake, you may also consider using ingredients such as chili, lemongrass or cilantro.
Making the Cakes
The process for mixing the ingredients and forming the cakes follows the same process as crab cakes. If you use lobster meat from a freshly cooked lobster, remove it from the shell, roughly chop it into chunks no larger than 3/4-inch, and set it aside. In a separate bowl, combine your binding ingredients -- minus the breadcrumbs -- and any extra herbs or seasonings. Gently fold the lobster meat into the mixture, along with enough breadcrumbs to hold it together. Shape the mixture into patties, squeezing them together to help hold their shape. Place the cakes on a plate or a baking sheet and chill them for 30 to 60 minutes to allow the mixture to firm up.
Roll the cakes in extra breadcrumbs for a crunchier exterior, if desired.
These fragile patties are not suitable for cooking right on the grates of your grill. Like crab cakes, lobster cakes can be cooked using several different methods, each with its own benefits:
Deep-Frying the Cakes
Within a matter of just a few minutes, you can deep-fry a batch of golden, crisp lobster cakes. Add oil to a deep fryer or pour oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pot and fill it 1/3 full with oil. Heat the oil to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the lobster cakes and fry them for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the exterior is browned. Transfer the fried lobster cakes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil. Sprinkle the cakes with salt and serve them while they are hot.
Broiling the Cakes
To broil lobster cakes to a golden finish, arrange the broiler rack approximately 4 inches away from the heat source of your oven. Brush the exterior of the cakes with oil or melted butter and place them on a baking sheet. Broil them for approximately 10 minutes or until the tops turn brown, turning the cakes once to brown both sides, if desired.
Keep a close eye on lobster cakes in the broiler, as they burn easily. Check for browning every couple of minutes and turn the pan, if needed, for even cooking.
Baking the Lobster Cakes
Baking is a good option for cooking the cakes without a lot of extra oil. It's also among the simplest methods, whether you're cooking for a crowd, or for just one or two people. Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F. Arrange the lobster cakes on a baking sheet and bake them for approximately 15 minutes, or until the exterior of each cake turns golden.
Pan-Frying the Lobster Cakes
Like deep-frying, pan-frying gives the lobster cakes a crunchy exterior that contrasts deliciously with the sumptuous interior. Grab a large, heavy-bottomed skillet and heat a little oil or melt butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter melts or the oil starts to shimmer, add the lobster cakes. Fry them for approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side and serve them immediately.
Add them to a bed of lightly dressed greens, plop them on a crusty kaiser roll or make these lobster cakes the main attraction on your plate along with some crispy oven fries and creamy coleslaw. In his book The Great Lobster Cookbook, restaurateur Matt Dean Pettit suggests serving the cakes on a bed of baby arugula dressed with a squeeze of fresh lemon and drizzle of aioli.