Sunday, January 5, 2014

lesson #439 for the life-long learner

So I've lived in Maryland for three years now, and have eaten my share of Maryland crab cakes in that time.  Not as many as Ben, of course, but more than a few.  Until yesterday, however, I had never attempted to make them myself.  And I probably won't have even then without the prompting of the fish guy at my local grocery store. 

There are two different fish guys, actually, and they are both extremely knowledgeable and friendly.  In fact, one of them is too friendly and too loud and a bit alarming.  I tend to shy away from the fish counter when he is working, frankly.  But he wasn't working yesterday, and his slightly quieter co-worker was.  "What's good today?" I asked him.  "Lump crab meat, $7.99 a pound" was his reply.  When I asked him if that was a good price, he was incredulous.  "$7.99?!  A pound?!  Yeah, that's good!   I bought two pounds myself."  When I asked him what he would make with his two pounds, he launched into an explanation of how to prepare salmon stuffed with crab meat.  "Or you could make crab cakes, of course" he said in an offhand way. 

He made the sale, and we came home with a pound of fresh lump crab meat.  Then Ben and I started searching on line for crab cake recipes.  I mean, who uses cookbooks anymore?  We knew we wanted to bake or broil the crab cakes, not pan fry them, so that ruled out quite a few recipes.  We found a likely candidate (one that I had all the ingredients for) and I got to work.  The only glitch was that the cooking time was off, and I flipped them too early.  You can only flip those once, believe me.  But I cooked them longer on the second side, and that seemed to work out okay.  I include the recipe here:

Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

  • Time 7 minutes
  • Serves 6


  • 1 large egg
  • 2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
  • Few drops of lemon juice (no more than about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crushed Ritz Crackers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 pound fresh jumbo lump crabmeat -- drained of all excess liquid
  • Non-stick cooking spray

How to make it

  • In a medium bowl, combine the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, lemon juice, Old Bay, salt and pepper. Mix so that all the ingredients are well-incorporated.
  • Add the cracker crumbs and parsley and mix well.
  • Gently fold in crabmeat until just combined (try not to break up lumps of crabmeat).
  • Using wet hands, shape mixture into 6 patties---8 patties if you like them smaller (do not pack too firmly; cakes should be as loose as possible and still hold their shape).
  • Put the crab cakes on a large platter or cookie sheet as they're shaped. Cover with foil and refrigerate at least 1 hour before cooking.
  • Set oven on Broil ( around 450 ) and place crab cakes a non stick sprayed cookie sheet. Put crab cakes in oven on medium height rack.
  • After 3 minutes of initial cooking time open oven to turn crab cakes over
  • using a spatula and your hands. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Drain on paper towels. Serve with lemon and tartar sauce.

I did use Colman's dry mustard instead of Dijon to keep the crab cakes as dry as possible, and I would recommend letting them cook for 4 minutes before trying to flip them and 4 mintues after.  But, keep an eye on them.  I made six of them, not eight, and they weren't very big, so I wouldn't try eight from this much crab meat.  Oh, also, I put them on a plate to refrigerate instead of on the cookie sheet.  It seemed to me like it would take them even longer to heat up if they were on a cold sheet. 

Anyway, our family crab cake expert (that would be Ben) declared them as good as any he has had out here.  I'm going to count that as a huge success, and if you can get your hands on fresh lump crab meat, I heartily recommend this recipe.   Bon Appétit!


Ben said...

Those crab cakes were SPECTACULAR! Besides the appearance, smell, taste, and texture, which were all fantastic, there was the joy of knowing we'd made them ourselves! The only thing I'd change is to buy fresher crab meat. Thanks for taking on the Crab Cake Challenge! You're a winner! :)

Ben said...

Hey hey you should mention the special snacky treat you cooked up for us on New Year's Eve!!! Sauerkraut balls, baby! Authentic Northeast Ohio sauerkraut balls, complete with a very zippy dipping sauce you invented yourself! Truly the highlight of my New Year's Eve 2013! Thank you!!

anne mancine said...

Who knew that sauerkraut balls were a northeast Ohio delicacy??