Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Will the Real Maryland Crab Cake Please Stand Up?

My favorite spring dinner menu is this:

Maryland Crab Cakes
Sliced Tomato (or tomato salad)

Aside from being beautiful on the plate and absolutely delicious, it's also done in 20 minutes and is healthy. And did I mention how fancy it is? As an extra added bonus, I'll share my secrets .... which are my grandmother's secrets. She grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay as a crab picker. Her crab cakes were the best thing I've ever tasted, without a doubt. I miss my dear Tilly!

(By the way, the picture isn't my crab cakes but that's what they should look like when done.)

Anyway, Tilly's recipe itself is no big secret ..... the real trick is in the handling of the crab meat. Let me enlighten you .....

  • Crab cake recipe - follow the recipe on the side of the box of Old Bay, but cut bread to 1 slice instead of 2 slices.

  • Use jumbo lump crab meat and do not break it up. If you really want to go for supreme taste and expense isn't an issue, throw in some back fin meat -- yep, that's right .... throw in some back fin meat (the cheap stuff) with your jumbo lump. The two mixed together make the best crab cake flavor. Be careful not to handle too much, and don't break up the lumps .. my lumps, my lovely crabby lumps!
  • Form your crab cakes gently, pressing just enough to hold them together. Your not making a snowball, so don't mush it together like your getting ready to throw it. Gently press and put on your baking sheet.

  • By the way, there are a few other tasty things you can do with this mixture:
  1. If you like balls, roll smaller for crab cake appetizers.
  2. Butterfly a couple of colossal shrimp and top with the crab mixture. Follow the same cooking instruction below. Serve one with a small filet for a super elegant and delicious surf n turf. (I made that with my risotto cakes and a caesar for Christmas dinner one year ... a huge hit. Sometime I'll share the risotto cake recipe -- not healthy, but a serious mouth party!)
  • Back to the crab cakes!! I usually get 4-5 nice sized crab cakes out of a pound of crab meat. Be generous and don't worry about making them look like perfectly smooth frisbees or balls ... messed up edges taste just as good, and actually look more appetizing once done.
  • Cook them under the broiler on one side for 10 minutes, until golden brown on top. No need to fry or dip in bread crumbs or whatever people who don't know how to make a crab cake do to their crab cakes. You'll also notice there are no peppers, onions or orange things hanging out of these crab cakes. When you see that stuff in your crab cake, you're eating a poseur.

  • If you want to serve it like a serious Maryland native, get out the saltines and Worcestershire sauce. Don't overdo it ... they're just accents. And if you put ketchup on it, you should be shot. (Sorry Davey Dogs, but it's just WRONG!)
The Asparagus - I steam mine, then do a quick toss before I serve with very teensy amounts of: butter, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

Tomato - Nuttin' beats a sliced red Jersey tomato, topped with a little salt n pepa. If you want to get a lil fancy, drizzle a little balsamic vinegar, a slice of fresh mozzarella and a few leaves of fresh basil. This is my favorite salad in the summer.

This is one of the fastest dinners you can make and is dinner-party quality. If you decide to try, let me know how it turns out.


schue said...

mmm, delicious! when are we invited?

Los said...

Great - it's 9:29 a.m., and now I'm absolutely starving for crab.

Thanks, Babs!

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

OOh-wee, Countess Babs. The Baroness loves her some crab. I have to tell you that I had the most horrific crab cakes EVER in some fancy-schmancy Manhattan restaurant - they were uber-poseurs. I didn't have any again until we went to S. Carolina - they seemed to be so proud of them, I couldn't say no. They were pretty amazing. I'm eager to try your gramma's recipe. Thanks so much for sharing. And like Los, I thank you too for starting my day by making me crave crab - it's only 8:30 am here!!

Lisa said...

You're all invited for dinner!

Kelly said...

I wish I liked crab - just could never go there.

I trust you though, 'cause I's know you can cook

Kelly said...

Wait just a gol darn minute!
I went back to reread the recipe thinking I might make them for Philbert, and what do I find but pornographic language!!!!

Step 1 If you like balls .....

What the heck does that have to do with making crab cakes!!!

And yes, I do like balls.... I'll take clean ones thank you

Lisa said...

Haha Gee! I think I meant ball-sized food ... but no matter how I phrase it, it sounds pornographic. But not as dirty as my "porn chops", as Sue pointed out. I think I've got some sublimal messages in my recipes.

I should've added to the list of alternatives .... plop the mixture into mushroom caps. Voila! Stuffed mushrooms (sans breadcrumbs)!