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Friday, June 22, 2012

Feeling Crabby

Only ONE crab cake?  Ok, this must be the lunch platter!
One of the easiest things to make, and make wonderfully well, is a good crab cake.  There are soooo many recipes out there, for various iterations of crab cakes, but after four consecutive Fridays of making crab cakes from different recipes, our family all agreed:  the simplest recipes are the best.

The flavor of crab is so subtle and sweet, that adding a lot of herbs and spices just seems to obscure the taste, rather than enhance it.  And when you’re spending anywhere from $20 to $26 a pound (Costco prices), you want to actually taste the crab meat.  Those prices are for the lump and the jumbo lump, which is what you want for crab cakes.   Don’t even bother with the unrefrigerated crab meat that is sold next to the canned tuna – it won’t be the same.  That kind is ok for crab dip, but you really want the fresh crab for a great crab cake.

This is the time of year when going out to a good seafood restaurant at the shore seems like a great idea.  But why go out when you can forgo the traffic and make a great crab dinner for five for the price of just one entrée?  (OK, so you won't be able to take a walk on the beach...)  Best option – throw these together in the morning before work – it’s easy as pie – and then let rest, covered in the fridge.  Get home, heat up your skillet, arrange some lettuce and good tomatoes on a plate and say goodbye take-out pizza, hello gourmet dinner!

Where are the best crab cakes to be had?  In Maryland, of course – so one of the best recipes comes from the book, Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields.  The recipe is  Faidley’s World Famous Crab Cakes, from Faidley’s restaurant in Baltimore where they have been making renowned crab cakes since 1886. 

Adapted from Faidley’s World Famous Crab Cakes
1 lb. jumbo lump crab meat
1 cup crushed saltines
½ cup mayonnaise
1 egg
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Vegetable oil, for frying
On a large sheet pan, spread out the lightly drained crab meat.  Sprinkle the crushed saltines over the top.  Mix all the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl.  Distribute over the top of the crab meat and crackers.  Fold together lightly.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Use a large ice cream scoop to portion out 10 or 11 crab cakes.  Cover with plastic wrap and store in fridge from 1 to 12 hours.
Heat about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of oil in a heavy frying pan over medium high heat.  Saute half the crab cakes for about 4 minutes per side until golden brown.  Repeat with remaining crab cakes.  Serve hot with fresh lemon slices.

Another, even more basic, but equally delicious, recipe comes from, of all places, the radio.

Joan Hamburg’s Crab Cakes from WOR 710 radio
1 lb. lump crab meat (this time, not jumbo)
8 saltines, crushed
3 Tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
Lightly mix together crab and saltines.  Mix the mayo and mustard in a small bowl.  Fold into the crab mixture.  Form into 6 – 8 large crab cakes or 10 smaller ones.  Chill in fridge 1 – 12 hours.  Saute in butter and olive oil in batches until golden brown on each side.

So go to the beach or not, but have some authentic Maryland crab cakes this summer – and take out some cookbooks and/or beach reads from our Library today.

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Crabby Person


Anonymous said...

Love it! Your photos make me so hungry! Just printed out for Friday nights dinner - but more than one cake on my plate!

Anonymous said...

How do you keep the cakes from falling apart while frying? How do you limit the oil spitting!?