Maryland Crab Cakes
An authentic taste
It’s blasphemy to call a patty that contains either imported or pasteurized crab meat a Maryland crab cake. The real thing features the sublime texture and mildly sweet meat extracted from steamed blue crabs, an official symbol of the state of Maryland and the most valuable commercial fish or shellfish of the Chesapeake Bay.
The prescription of binder for a Maryland crab cake is very specific: Use only enough to hold the patty together. To bulk up a crab cake in order to make less crab go further is unacceptable.
It’s fine to bake or broil crab cakes, but the ideal technique is to pan fry them in clarified butter, and finish them in the oven.
Serve on a buttered and toasted bun with lettuce and tomato, or, accompanied by the lemony mayonnaise and Tomato-Corn Relish included here.
The Crab Cake
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Tabasco
Juice of 1 lemon
2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
1 tablespoon cracker meal
1 stick butter, clarified*
Cornmeal for dredging
Lemon and Pickle and Old Bay Mayonnaise
1½ cups mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
6 cornichon pickles, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 tablespoon horseradish
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup grated yellow bell pepper
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Combine mayonnaise and remaining ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. (Note: This makes a large amount, but may be kept in a closed container for topping other dishes.)
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Kernels from 4 roasted ears of corn
4 large tomatoes, diced, seeds removed
½ cup diced yellow bell pepper
2 shallots, diced
¼ cup chopped parsley
Whisk together sugar, salt, lemon juice and rice wine vinegar, adjusting seasoning to taste. Toss with remaining ingredients when ready to serve.
1. Assemble crab cake ingredients. Mix together the first seven.
2. Gently fold crabmeat and cracker meal into the mixture.
3. An ice scream scoop makes an easy dispenser.
4. Form 6 medium patties (or 16 small), and dredge in fine cornmeal.
5. Heat iron skillet on medium high for 5 minutes. Add clarified butter (3 tablespoons). Place patties into skillet. Flatten tops slightly.
6. Fry until golden, about 2 minutes on each side. To finish cooking, place skillet in a pre-heated 350-degree oven until cooked through (about 4-6 minutes).
* To clarify butter, melt butter over medium heat, forcing the milk solids to separate from the fat. As butter simmers over low heat, the milk solids begin to fry. Once the milk solids are visible as light brown particles, the butter is ready to be decanted. To decant, remove the melted butter with browned milk solids from heat, and allow the butter to rest so that the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pot. Simply pour the clarified butter from the top into a container. A fine sieve or strainer lined with cheesecloth is also effective in rendering clean clarified butter. (Note: You’ll end up with about 3 tablespoons of butter.)