Kimchi Crab Cakes

Kimchi Crab Cakes

Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish composed of fermented vegetables. Think of it as a funky, Asian sauerkraut that brings crunch and kick to a classic crab cake.


  • 2 limes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 ounces kimchi (drained and finely chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 ounces panko breadcrumbs (divided)
  • 8 ounces lump crab meat
  • 8 ounces jumbo lump crab meat
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  1. Zest one of the limes with a rasp grater and cut into 6 wedges. Cut the second lime into 6 wedges. Transfer the zest into a large bowl and set the wedges aside.
  2. Add the egg, mayonnaise, kimchi, pepper and salt to the bowl with the lime zest. Whisk to combine. Fold in 1 1/2 ounces of the panko and the crab meat.
  3. Fill a pie pan with the remaining 1 1/2 ounces of the panko.
  4. Divide the mixture into 12 (2-ounce) portions and shape into patties. Transfer the cakes to the pie pan, coat both sides in panko, then place on a cooling rack set inside a half sheet pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Heat the oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, cook the crab cakes, 4 at a time, for approximately 3 minutes per side. Remove to a clean cooling rack set over paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining crab cakes.
  6. Serve immediately with lime wedges.


Add yours
  1. 1

    In my opinion, there’s no way to make a nice juicy crab cake burger that would live up to it’s beef hamburger counterpart. Unless your frying your crab cakes in oil. It’s the only way to go for sure.

  2. 2
    Don Barto

    Kym, I mean no disrespect. As a native Marylander, we learn to recognize and appreciate a good crab cake as toddlers. For many of us, some of the first words we learn to say…after “Mom-ma” and Dad-da”…are, “Broiled, please”. Actually, in our own homes and among ourselves, we are known to bake the crab cakes at 350° until they are golden brown, but in restaurants we will go with broiled. And in Korea, nothing is more valued than good Kimchi juice.

    Alton does us all a great service when he researches a cooking technique or recipe…his recommendations are always very solid, and I follow them to the letter when I am in uncharted culinary territory. Perhaps in some future iteration of this recipe he will have researched broiling and baking crab cakes and will have discovered for himself and his audience, the value of dry heat vs frying in oil. And maybe he will have even acquired a taste for the kimchi mayo.


  3. 4
    Don Barto

    Alton, try cooking them under the broiler on a non-stick cookie sheet in one batch until they are browned on top. Usually takes about 10 minutes for larger cakes…maybe less time for small ones like these.

    Yes, good job…do carefully fold in the precious crab meat…and be carful not to pat the fluffiness and natural texture out of the crab meat lumps when you form the folded mixture into cakes.

    And that kimchi juice that you drain…I would be tempted to mix it with some mayo for an interesting condiment. Maybe a second soy or rice vinegar based dipping sauce as well…with some chopped scallions. And consider serving these crabcakes with those little throwaway chop sticks you get at sushi bars…or for a more Korean feel, metal chopsticks.

    The most intriguing crab dish I had in Korea was rice spooned into the opened back shell of a steamed blue crab…so it gets mixed with the juices and tie and crab fat and little bits of membrane that live there. Traditionally only men get get eat that part. And of course the fermented crab…raw crabs fermented for several days in a crock along with, among other things, soy sauce and gauchujong…that firery red Korean chili paste

    And to the person who questioned using tune instead of crab, two things: crab cakes made with just about any type of fish meat are great…not the wonderful texture of crab, but still very good. I have made the traditional Marylabd crab cake recipe with cod instead of crab meat and they are very good. You just have to be aware that crab meat is already cooked when it comes from the can and fresh fish wound be raw. And you mention kimchi jjigae…I make that for lunch fine times and wil dump in a small can of tuna at the very end…or dump the can of tuna into an empty soup bowl and ladle the boiling hot jjigae over over it. Yummo!

  4. 5

    Mr. Brown…very formal! Do you have a favorite brand, or what should you look for when buying kimchi. Or like Cathy asked do you have a recipe for kimchi?

  5. 6
    Sue Karr

    Did you know our Governor-elect here in Maryland is married to a lady of Korean descent? I heard on election night that he’s planning to take his kimchee fridge to the Governor’s mansion in Annapolis. Hope they see this recipe!!

  6. 7

    I would think leg crab meat would contrast better with the kimchi, doesn’t the kimchi overpower the lump crab meat? Or do I just like the really fermented stuff?

  7. 8
    Katherine Nobles

    I love kimchi, especially in kimchi chigue (soup). i can’t eat crab, or any other shellfish, and was thinking about making this with canned tuna or salmon. Any comment on that?

  8. 10
    Mike Margolis

    These would be great for a New Year’s Day party? Would making them ahead and then reheating in a warm oven to re-crisp yield acceptable results? Also, should the crab be fresh packed or canned? I’m thinking canned might be okay (and easier to find here) given the kimchi’s strong flavors. Thanks for the great recipe ideas!

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