Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Crab Cakes Recipe


Maryland Crab Cakes

When I traveled to the Easter Shore of Maryland in November, my main culinary desire was oysters.  Visiting my childhood stomping grounds in the early summer, however, causes me to want crabs, Maryland Blue Crabs which happen to be the state crustacean.  Last month, fresh off of our flight from Texas, my family and I stopped at Holly's Restaurant in Grasonville, Maryland.  I had a rich cup of crab bisque followed by a meaty crab cake sandwich.  A few days into our Maryland vacation the boys of my family woke up at four in the morning in order to catch crabs for a good old fashioned crab feast complete with corn on the cob, crackers and cheese, pickles, and lots of Old Bay seasoning.

The boys of my family got up at 4am to catch us some fat crabs!
Throughout my holiday I also enjoyed a bread bowl filled with succulent crab dip at The Market Street Public House in Denton, Maryland and a petite portion (I was still slightly full from lunch at Nicolas Pizza and was saving room for dessert at Candy Kitchen) of flavorful crab imperial at Jake's Seafood House in Rehoboth Beach Delaware .  All of these dishes were scrumptious, but my crab cravings were not quenched until my mom made me a crab cake sandwich.

Crab Dip from the pub in Denton, Maryland
On the last day of our two week vacation to the Delmarva Peninsula, my mother surprised my family by purchasing a pound of crab meat and concocting her simple and savory crab cake recipe.  When making any dish from local crab, my mother starts by picking out all of the shell from the meat.  This step involves placing a few tablespoons of crab between your fingers and feeling around for any bits of shell which need to be removed.  Although a bit time consuming, 'picking' the crab is an essential step to creating any luscious crab dish.

Good crab meat is an essential part of any great crab recipe.
Once the crab has been picked free of stray bits of shell, my mother places it in a bowl and sprinkles it with a few tablespoons of bread crumbs or crushed cracker crumbs.  Restaurant crab cakes often have a higher crab to filler ratio due to cost, but the less bread binder the better.  Next she adds mayonnaise, Old Bay, and a beaten egg.    If she's in the mood, she might add some dry mustard, salt and pepper, or a shake or two of hot sauces, but when it comes to crab recipes, simple is best.  The star of the show should always be the crab.

In the midst of preparing bacon and toast with homemade strawberry jam for my four children, hanging all of our laundry out on the clothes line, giving my teenage daughter driving lessons, and making gallons of sweet tea; my mother managed to lovingly form the crab cakes into patties.
Super Meemaw!
When the crab cake mixture has been lightly combined, my mother shapes the meat into patties and chills them in the refrigerator for a few hours.  This allows the flavors to intensify and helps the cakes to stay together during the cooking process.  Although some cooks prefer to broil or deep fry their crab cakes, my mother sautes them in butter.  A bun with some tarter sauce and an ear of sweet corn on the side is nice, but not necessary because a Maryland Crab Cake is perfection all by itself.

The Eastern Shore of Maryland on a plate.
The highlights of my trip were definitively catching up with family and connecting with old friends, but right below that was eating Maryland Blue Crab.  In my heart, I know that my desire for crab and other regional delicacies is not just about the food, but it is also about the memories that connect to these Chesapeake Bay ingredients.  I love the beef barbecue, fresh avocados for guacamole, creamy jalapeno dip, and queso of Texas, but I am already anticipating my next visit to the the Eastern Shore of Maryland in September.  In addition to attending the NCHS 25th reunion with my high school sweetheart/husband, I plan on devouring many of my dad's garden fresh tomatoes.  I hope that this summer you have an opportunity to enjoy some of your favorite local cuisine from the past and the present.  Happy Summer! 
  

Crab Cake Recipe

16 ounces crab meat (preferably lump)
2 Tablespoons bread crumbs (or crushed cracker crumbs)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
optional:  salt, pepper, dry mustard, Tabasco
2 Tablespoons butter, to use in the pan when frying

  1. Carefully pick all shells from crab meat.
  2. Place picked crab meat in a large bowl and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
  3. Combine lightly beaten egg with mayonnaise and seasonings and pour over crab meat and bread crumbs.  Gently stir to combine.
  4. Shape crab mixture into four large or six medium patties.
  5. Over medium heat, melt butter in a large saute pan.
  6. Gently saute crab cakes until they are golden brown on the bottom.  Carefully flip the patties and continue to cook until the other side has browned and the crab cakes are heated through.
  7. Serve on a bun with tarter sauce and a side of corn on the cob.