Sunday, January 24, 2016

Crab Cakes

We experienced blizzard conditions in southeast Pennsylvania this weekend…beautiful, but quite inconvenient!

But, when we walked into M.’s house for dinner the other night and were immediately greeted by the crackle of a wonderful fire to warm our chilly bones and the smell of Old Bay, we knew it was going to be a good night.

Old Bay normally sounds the alarm for crab cakes and we were right!  Crab cakes are made with, of course, crab meat and the other usual suspects of bread crumbs, milk, mayonnaise, eggs and, in particular Old Bay Seasoning.  The Blue Crab is native to the Chesapeake Bay and its succulent meat is the ultimate choice in most Baltimore restaurants, where the cakes are served both broiled and fried.  I lived in Baltimore for three years and I learned to really appreciate these little beauties. Although Maryland is renowned for Crab Cakes, the patties are popular in any coastal area where crabbing thrives.  

Crabs are caught in crab traps the crustaceans enter to eat the bait but from which the poor dears can’t escape.  Some are wooden, some are made of wire.  Plain-old nets are also used.  Once the traps or nets are full, the fisher retrieves the cages and escorts the jewels to their final destination.  We are grateful that nature provides such tasty morsels. 

Did you know that the scientific name for the Blue Crab is Callinectes, Greek for Beautiful Swimmer.  And, btw, crabs can only do the's very funny to watch them walk!

Crab Cakes
Cooks Illustrated

1 pound lump crabmeat (preferably jumbo lump), picked over to remove cartilage and shell fragments
4 medium scallions , green part only, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves or cilantro, dill, or basil, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs, or up to 1/4 cup (see note)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 large egg
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cups vegetable oil

The amount of bread crumbs you add will depend on the crabmeat’s juiciness. Start with the smallest amount, adjust the seasonings, then add the egg. If the cakes won’t bind at this point, then add more bread crumbs, one tablespoon at a time.

Gently mix crabmeat, scallions, herb, Old Bay, bread crumbs, and mayonnaise in medium bowl, being careful not to break up crab lumps. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Carefully fold in egg with rubber spatula until mixture just clings together.

Divide crab mixture into four portions and shape each into a fat, round cake, about 3 inches across and 1 1/2-inches high. Arrange on baking sheet lined with waxed paper; cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes. (Can refrigerate up to 24 hours.)

Put flour on a plate and lightly dredge crab cakes. Heat oil in large, preferably a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Gently lay chilled crab cakes in skillet and pan-fry until outsides are crisp and browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve hot, with sauces!

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce (minced)
1 small clove garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon lime juice from 1 lime
Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes. (The sauce can be refrigerated for several days.)

It was an eventful evening.  Ella, the Labrador, stole the remnants of the cheese tray and a husband unexpectedly joined us for dinner… we each happily offered a quarter-section of our crab cake.  We listened to selections from Hamiltion, a play about the life of Alexander Hamilton…it amazes me how brilliant composers are.  And, we had homemade rice pudding for dessert.

Blue crab photo and crab facts from

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