In Search of Maryland Blue Crab…

I was born and raised in Maryland.  I grew up going to different spots along the Eastern shore on vacation.  My cousins and I would catch crabs at night under the lights on the dock with a dip net, while our parents stood by just waiting for us to fall in the water.  We would have to catch them again as they tried to escape the steamer pot as we readied it on the  kitchen floor late at night.

Daytime fun at the shore-anticipating crabbin’ fun at night

The Maryland Blue Crab is proudly designated as the State Crustacean.  The blue crab’s scientific name (Callinectes sapidus) translates as “beautiful swimmer that is savory.”  They are bluish in color with reddish claws.  Crab meat from the hardshell is at its best on a summer day by the Bay, steamed and spiced with Old Bay Seasoning® and a nice cold beer.  My favorite way to eat crab is in the form of a crab cake.

Recently, my husband and I took a trip back to our Maryland roots.  I was craving crab cakes and longing to see my best friend.  Notice the priority in which I list those things?  We headed to the Eastern Shore a/k/a as the Chesapeake Bay area, and Ocean City,Maryland.  I ate some form of crabmeat every chance I got.

Fisherman’s Crab Deck Restaurant, Kent Narrows, Maryland

My favorite spot to stop is just under the Kent Narrows Bridge, not too far from the Bay Bridge.  The Fisherman’s Crab Deck restaurant serves great local crab in any manner you wish.  It was a rainy afternoon when we stopped, but that didn’t dampen my spirits.  The cream of crab soup and crab balls were delicious.  In the summer the restaurant opens its garage door sides onto the large deck over the Bay.  It’s the perfect spot to stop.  www.crabdeck.com

With permission from Fisherman’s Crab Deck

Of course, I can’t go to Maryland without bringing home at least a pound of crabmeat to soothe my cravings.  Beware, some seafood restaurants and stores are sneaky about their crab.  They no longer call it blue crab or Maryland crab, just crab.  If you read the labels, the crab may come from Thailand or Florida.  That is NOT Maryland crab meat.

Pre-made crab cakes and Old Bay Seasoning at the local seafood store

Here is my recipe for Maryland crab cakes.  If you choose to make them in miniature size and round them like a ball, you’ll have crab balls – a great appetizer for any party.

Maryland Crab Cakes

 Ingredients

1 pound of Maryland crabmeat-lump or backfin

Note: 1 pound of crab meat will make 6 average size crab cakes.

1 egg – beaten

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon (or more) seafood seasoning (I always use Old Bay)

1 teaspoon dried mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Bread Crumbs-fine for coating crab cakes and hands

Option-Use Panko Crumbs, but will have a coarser texture

Equipment:  Cast Iron skillet

Maryland lump crab meat draining

RESPECT the crab by draining and gently picking through the meat to remove any cartilage or shell bits, being careful not to break up the large lump pieces.  After picking through the meat, leave it in the bowl.  A chilled stainless steel bowl is good to use.

In a separate bowl, mix all other ingredients together, EXCEPT bread crumbs.  Add more seasoning, if desired.  Just a little salt & pepper, since you already have added the seafood seasoning.  Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat.

Pour this mixture over the crab meat and gently fold it in.  You want it all to combine and just hold together-not too loose and not too compact.  If the mixture is too moist, add a few bread crumbs a small sprinkle at a time.

Shape into the size crab cake or crab ball you want, and sparingly cover with bread crumbs.  You may also need to dust your hands with bread crumbs as you form the crab cakes.  You want the cakes to hold together enough so that they do not fall apart in the skillet, but not be overly coated with bread crumbs.

Crabcakes formed and ready for fridge

After making the cakes, chill them for a ½ hour or so before frying.  (If you can’t wait, have the skillet ready and fry them quickly in the hot oil.)

From the fridge to the frying pan

Heat the vegetable oil and a spoonful of butter in the cast iron skillet. You want just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.  This recipe calls for shallow frying, not deep frying.  The crab cakes should sizzle as you place  in the skillet.  I cooked these on the side burner of our grill.

Depending on the size and thickness of the cake, fry on each side for about 3-4 minutes.  Do not overcook.

Drain on a paper towel and serve hot with your favorite sauce.  I use a homemade cocktail sauce of ketchup, horseradish and chile sauce with a squeeze of lemon.

I hope you get to Maryland and have the opportunity to try some delicious Maryland Blue Crab.

Respectfully, Susan

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