Searing is an essential cooking technique and you can use it for everything from scallops to crab cakes to calves' liver. Usually chefs don’t think about the amount of oil (and calories) added to the sear pan.
Getting the outside of crab cakes crusty is one of the things that makes them so delicious. Use a non-stick pan. Heat the oil until it is very hot – almost to the stage where it begins to smoke. Add the crab cakes and cook for about 5 minutes. While they are cooking spray them lightly with oil. Turn and cook for another 2 minutes.
This technique will work for searing almost anything. The cooking times will vary depending on what you are cooking.
It is very important to not sear too much in one pan. If the foods are too close together, the steam they give off will not be able to evaporate and will end up in the pan as liquid. The result is a soggy mess, not a crispy crab cake.