What makes 5-star, stop-you-in-your-tracks, authentic Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes?
Jumbo lump crab meat + fillers to the absolute minimum + a touch of Old Bay seasoning.
Don't be sneaking in no veggies, celery and bits of gawd-knows-what that's going off in the fridge.
When done right these ought to be thick, luscious and gently flavored patties with a whole lot of crab and not much else.
Done wrong, they are as Mr. Hubby describes, "bread stuffing with bits of crab snuck in".
For those off us who live near the Chesapeake Bay, we all have our favorite crab cake joint in our favorite town. Ours happens to be the Dock Street Bar & Grill in Annapolis, Maryland and as soon as we can, I'd like to hop in the car and drive over to get some. Crab cakes makes perfect spending a day in this gorgeous Navy town it is with boutique stores, beautiful historic homes and a wonderful bay studded with sail boats.
The crab cakes at this place in Annapolis are to die for! I once called up the restaurant many moons ago and requested their recipe but I received a trite "absolutely not" in response.
So it was up to me to get this right. A few attempts and a couple of lbs. of crab meat later, even if I may say so myself, I think we've got it!
Now the # 1 complaint with lump crab cakes is that people find it very hard to fry them without them breaking apart in the pan.
The challenge with lump crab meat is that there is nothing to hold the thick long flakes of meat together unlike back fin. And since we don't want to add any extra breading to the cakes, my solution, which I think works quite well, is to add just a little all-purpose flour just before (and not a moment before) forming the cakes.
The reason for this is that during the marinating period while the crab mixture sits so flavors can meld, these will release their juices. Adding the all-purpose flour just before forming the crab cakes, helps with absorbing the excess moisture and binds the crab cakes for easy frying without affecting the flavor with added crumb.
These are perfect for a special occasion or when you want to treat yourself and loved ones to a special meal that comes together in a jiffy.
Authentic Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes
Makes 6 qty - Serves 2 uber-hungry eaters
1 lb. container lump crab meat (if you buy from Costco they don't need picking for shells)
3 tbsp. mayonnaise, preferably Hellman's
1/2 cup Ritz crackers or saltine crackers
1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 tbsp. all-purpose flour (to be used JUST BEFORE forming crab cakes)
unsalted butter for pan frying crab cakes
Crab meat: Drain in a sieve to get rid of excess liquid. Pick free of shells.
Egg: Crack into a bowl, discarding the shell.
In a food processor bowl, add the parsley leaves. Process for a few minutes to chop.
To the parsley add the crackers and process to crumbs. Empty the parsley-crumb mixture into a large mixing bowl.
Add the egg, mayo, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and salt. Combine with a whisk.
Add the crab meat. Very gently with a rubber spatula, fold the ingredients until well combined but do not over work. Taste and adjust seasonings. Since the crab is pre-steamed you can go ahead and taste it.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours for the flavors to meld.
Remove form the refrigerator just before serving. Add the all-purpose flour and fold ingredients gently.
Form into crab cakes 2" inches in diameter and about an inch thick. Gently press while forming the patties to bind the ingredients together.
Heat a cast iron pan on medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 tbsp. butter and spread around the pan.
Once the butter stops foaming, gently place the crab cakes on the pan a few inches apart. Do this in two batches if necessary but do not over crowd the pan.
Pan fry for 2-3 minutes until you can see browning at the edges of the crab cakes. With a large thin metal spatula, flip over the crab cakes quickly and fry on the other side. Repeat until all crab-cakes are pan fried a golden brown.
Serve immediately with lemon and a side of greens.
Cook's Note: I love something light like roasted asparagus that looks lovely on a plate and isn't overpowering to take over the light delicate flavor of the crab cakes.