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Recipe: David Burke's Calorie-Cutting Crab Cakes

David Burke in front of David Burke Townhouse in New York City with a healthy remake of his pretzel crusted crab cake classic.
David Burke and a healthy remake of his pretzel crusted crab cake classic. (Neil Katz) Neil Katz

(CBS) Crab cakes are a classic.  They are also a killer when it comes to calories and saturated fat. Usually steeped in mayonnaise and butter, then deep fried, this dream food can easily become a nightmare.

So we asked "Top Chef Master" veteran David Burke to remake his pretzel-crusted crab cake. The dish is a perennial favorite at David Burke Townhouse, just one of his New York restaurants. He has five others spread across New  York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Chicago.

PICTURES: Step-by-Step Guide to Pretzel-Crusted Crab Cakes

Normally, "In that crab you have 2 teaspoons of butter per order," he told CBS News. "The way we designed the healthy one, we cut out all the butter, but still wind up with someone delicious."

Burke's healthier crab cakes uses the oven instead of the deep fryer and pumps up flavor with mustard, lemon zest and high quality crab. The dish does have some low-fat mayonnaise and canola oil, but ends up being only 173 calories and 6 grams of fat.

Burke says he's concerned with the growing obesity problem: "I think the childhood obesity issue is crazy. It's sad," he says. And he is increasingly focused on lightening the food at his restaurants.

At Fishtail, his New York seafood eatery, the menu is kept lighter and relies on the healthier fat of olive oil, he says.

Even at Townhouse, which, he admits, serves some butter-rich French fare, he says, "We use fruit purees , reductions of stocks and olive oils for sauces."

"Can we make this healthy without sacrificing flavor," Burke asks. You be the judge.


PICTURES: Step-by-Step Guide to Pretzel-Crusted Crab Cakes


Crab Cakes
3/4 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup finely diced celery
4 Tbs. low fat mayonnaise
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 Tbs. mustard
1 tsp. lime juice
2 lbs lump crabmeat, picked clean of all shell and cartilage
3 tsp. minced fresh chives
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/4 cup water
1 box Pretz pretzel sticks (can be purchased in Japanese gourmet stores)
Alternative to pretzel sticks - Ritz Crackers or crushed saltines

1/2 cup mustard
2 oz. soy sauce
Juice of one half, zest, lemon lime

Blood orange and apple slices
Basil sprigs

PICTURES: Step-by-Step Guide to Pretzel-Crusted Crab Cakes


1. Heat water in a small saute pan over medium heat.
2. Add the onion and celery and boil the vegetables for about four minutes, or until they are soft.
3. Remove them from the heat and drain off and discard the excess water. Set aside.
4. Combine the mayo, canola oil, mustard and lime juice in a large mixing bowl.
5. Mix with a spoon until well blended and very smooth.
6. Fold in the crabmeat, chives, lemon zest, Old Bay, along with the reserved onions and celery.
7. Cover and refrigerate the crab cake mixture for 15 minutes to chill slightly.
8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
9. Remove the crab cake mixture from the refrigerator.

Construct the Crab Cake Raft

10. Place two long scallion strips on a place about three inches apart. These will be used to tie up the raft.
11. On top of the scallion strips, line 1 row of pretz (about six pretzels) closely together and top with about 1/4 cup of crab mixture.
12. Line the top with the same amount of pretzels (creating a raft).
13. Fold the scallion strips over and tie them on top of the raft.
14. Place the pretzel coated cakes on the prepared baking sheet.
15. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until the cakes are firm.
16. Place crab cakes on aluminum foiled sheet pan and place in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to bake.

Sauce and Plate

17. Make a quick sauce by combining 1/2 cup mustard, soy sauce, lemon juice and zest.
18. On a serving platter, spread a few dollops of sauce for each crab cake you will place on plate.
19. Place crab cakes on plate.
20. Top with small slices of grapefruit, apple and basil.


Serves: 8 cakes
Serving Size: 1 cake
Calories: 173
Total Fat: 6g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 104mg
Sodium: 670mg
Total Carb: 4g
Dietary Fiber: .4g
Sugars: .3g

PICTURES: Step-by-Step Guide to Pretzel-Crusted Crab Cakes

Make sure to visit David Burke's restaurants here.

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