My husband and I moved to Maryland early in our marriage. He had obtained a research job at a Delaware hospital and I just finished my child health – pediatric nurse practitioner degree and was working at the esteemed Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. It was 1990.
We enjoyed living outside one of the major metropolitan areas in the northeast. One of the things we especially enjoyed was the food. I was introduced to some of the finest Jewish delis and their two and a half inch high reuben sandwiches by one of the most esteemed pediatricians of the 20th century. He also treated us to lunch at a famed Spanish restaurant complete with Crème Brûlée when he went “off service” after a month of grilling us and the medical residents as our attending physician.
My experience at Hopkins and our time living outside of Baltimore is one of the favorite times in my life. One of the greatest pleasures was going to markets and eating fresh seafood such as Blue Crab. Blue Crab is a local food, caught in the Chesapeake Bay and eaten in any number of ways. We tried most of them (I think). But, the one we enjoyed the most was crab cakes.
Luckily, the Sam’s Club near us offers lump blue crab meat that is pasteurized and sold by the pound. It takes one pound of crab meat and only a few other ingredients to make six one-inch-thick Maryland Crab Cakes. The recipe I use is also from a Maryland publication. The crab cakes are delicious and we have them about twice a year. We had them yesterday for the first time this year and they were every bit as yummy as we remembered!
Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks in making crab cakes. A new trick is that after the cakes are formed, you want to let them sit in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. This allows them to stick together better when frying. We typically pan fry our crab cakes but I think next time we are going to try deep frying them, just for a change. There certainly wasn’t anything wrong with the way they turned out – absolutely, delicious!
The crab cake itself is in a traditionally Maryland style. This means it has very little filler or binders, the cake is mostly crab meat.
But, some fillers are needed to hold the cake together. They are Italian bread crumbs, mayo, dry mustard, eggs (2), Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. These ingredients get mixed up throughly before the crab gets added. You will note that there is not much of this and it binds very firmly together.
Take the crab out of the container that will typically have a sealed aluminum pull tab since it has been pasteurized to improve shelf life. If you have access to fresh blue crab meat, I would definitely use that instead. But, the pasteurized meat comes in a one pound container. We’ve found it to be very high quality and not fishy. I dump it into a bowl and break it apart with my fingers feeling for any left over cartilage or shell.
Once the two bowls have been combine thoroughly, you are ready to make the cakes. You will find the easiest way to mix the crab meat and bread crumb (filler-binder) mixture is to use your hands. This recipe makes six good sized crab cakes. Two would be a single serving for dinner. One would make a nice lunch.
We pan fried our crab cakes. It is the way the recipe states as well as what we’ve always done.
It only takes five minutes per side in a minimum amount of oil to cook them well.
So be sure to have the rest of your meal ready to serve once you start frying the cakes.
Our accompaniments were gourmet potatoes (homemade) and caesar salads. Be sure to have some fresh lemon wedges on hand for seasoning too!
A nice sharp chardonnay goes well with these too!
We’ve found that regional cuisine is fun to try and fun to mix up the meal ruts we all find ourselves in on occasion. What are some of your favorite meals from where you live now or in the past? Let me know in the comments!