Don’t you love crabcakes? There are many variations of crab cakes and please, always be creative. However like all dishes some follow a pattern and method that pays homage to the place of origin. Take the Maryland Crab Cake for example which combines the local Blue Claw Crab with a few ingredients including Baltimore’s own Old Bay Seasoning, created in the Charm City. This Crab Cake has become the template for all other American crab cakes. Basically it’s a mix of ground breadcrumbs or Saltine cracker crumbs into a mix of egg, Mayonnaise, a bit of hot sauce or cayenne, Dash of Worchestershire Sauce(I use the Lee & Perrin’s brand), a bit of prepared mustard (no, not Dijon, although that works, it was originally the humble generic French’s yellow type), squeeze of lemon , Old Bay ,and that’s it. Additions of red and green diced bell peppers, celery, onion, shallots, garlic, parsley, other green herbs, can all be added for sure, BUT, if you are going to call it a Maryland Style crab cake, don’t add those. Save that for what you’ll call your Signature crab cakes, but not Maryland style. Caution, Old Bay Seasoning is VERY strong flavored, a little goes a very long way. Too much of this delicious blend and you’ve over seasoned and will only taste the strongest flavors in that blend. Less is more. My personal favorite Maryland Crab Cake of all time are the ones served in the ancient Lexington Market in Baltimore at FAIDLEY’S…http://www.faidleyscrabcakes.com/ Definitely worth a trip to Baltimore for they are just that good. I’m sure everyone who’s been in and out of Baltimore has their own favorite, Faidley’s is mine. Us “bloggers”, cooks, amateurs and Professional chefs and cooks all feel differently about an item, that’s ok. This blog is meant to give you my perspective on foods I’ve cooked or have tasted in my travels.
Here’s a sticking point with me and crab cakes, I am calling them Maryland “Style”..that word allows me to be a little less constricted or heretical in giving this dish the title of Maryland CrabC ake (a little much perhaps, but it’s why i named myself A Food Obsession). The crab meat you or I will be using will most likely not be from the Chesapeake Bay which Baltimore sits right on top of. Years of cooking and talking about food have me very cautious to not “say” the wrong thing and have to backtrack. I’m not in Maryland or am using Maryland Crab for this so..i’m following the “style” that they use in Maryland.. lecture over. The other important piece of info here is that you use LUMP crabmeat, the meat from where the body of the crab (Blue Claw Crab) is attached to the back swimming legs. It comes in Colossal, Jumbo Lump, Lump or Back Fin. The tastiest crab cakes are made from one of the grades of “Lump”…Back Fin is the next choice which is a mix of flaked body meat and some form of Lump. Back Fin is probably the most widely used because it’s a bit less expensive than all lump. I like all lump. More “crab” taste for me. Unless you are buying or catching your own bushels of crab you will be purchasing crab meat in a container or can and will be quite confused. Not all cans of crab are the same crab and they will be labeled according to type of crab, grade, and country of origin. Look for wild caught and Blue, either Blue Claw U.S., or Blue Swimming crab. I find other crab meats to be of lesser quality, different texture and having an almost tinny cat food taste when cooked, especially sauteed or fried.
that’s the crab you want, in a perfect world. That’s what makes a Maryland Style Crab Cake so good but you can achieve great crab cakes following my above suggestions. I promise. Let’s make crab cakes now!
You will need:
1 lb. Lump Crab Meat or backfin (if using backfin it’s a good idea to pick the meat over for shells, lump crab generally doesn’t have as many shells and you don’t want to break up those lumps.
1/8 cup finely crushed Saltine Crackers or plain breadcrumbs
1 beaten egg
2 1/2 tbs. of Hellmann’s or Duke’s Mayo (shameless plugs for what I think are good mayos, Best Mayo west of the Rockies)
1 tsp. mustard
dash of Tabasco or your favorite Hot Sauce (please, not the kick-ass searing your internal organ types)
1/2 tsp of Old Bay Seasoning
2 tbs. unsalted butter, 2 tsp. cooking oil
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
Mix everything together except the crab. Let it stand for 10 minutes, Then Fold in the crab just gently enough to mix it without breaking up all the lump or meat. Shape into 6 even sized/shaped crab cakes. Set on waxed or parchment paper on a platter and chill in the fridge loosely covered for no less than one hour.
Heat the oil then add the butter in a non-stick frying pan till a drop of water sizzles in it. Remove the cakes from the fridge and gently saute’ them for 4-5 minutes (until golden) per side. If your pan is too high, you will burn the outsides and have cold interiors. Not good. Take you time. Remove to a platter with a bed of greens and squeeze some lemon over the top..Tartar Sauce is my preference here, but many like Remoulade or Cocktail Sauce.
A perfect dinner plate..some garlic croutons, and a Greek Salad which goes wonderful with the crab cakes. Takes about 1/2 hour start to finish and feeds 3.