July 12, 2008

Eastern Shore Crab Cakes!

My father grew up in Baltimore and he tells us that as a child he would crab the Chesapeake by dangling his toes in the water waiting for a nibble and scooping up crabs with a net. My earliest memories of him involve crabbing off of a rickety (my mother's adjective for the spot) pier in Port Aransas, Texas, tying chicken necks to strings and sitting, waiting for that good tug on the line. If we went out with one of his friends on a canoe or small boat for a few hours, we'd come back with laundry baskets brimming with live crabs. We'd take them home and he would cook them in huge pots with beer and Old Bay seasoning. Finally, when we were all sitting around a picnic table covered in newspaper, wooden mallets and small cups of melted butter, our mouths watering, I would watch my father meticulously clean at least a dozen crabs- placing all of the cleaned meat in a small pile- before he would start to eat. OCD? Perhaps. I never emulated that strange and wonderful skill (I was far too impatient), but I did inherit his love of crabmeat. This is a not-so messy way to enjoy the goodness of crab. The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated, a periodical and a website which I strongly recommend based on its use of a test kitchen. These crabcakes are made with ingredients which enhance the flavor of the crab without adding much filler.

1 pound lump crabmeat, meticulously cleaned
4 medium scallions, green part only, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning (or more, to taste)
2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs or cracker crumbs
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

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.

2. Divide crab mixture into four or five 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.)

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

I made a super-easy chipotle dipping sauce. It can be spicy or mild, depending on the ratio of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to mayo. Start by putting 1 cup of mayo in a food processor and add one chipotle pepper and one teaspoon of the adobo sauce. Blend and then taste. If it's not spicy enough, just do the same steps again until it is as hot as you want it.

Well, as it happened, that rickety little pier did collapse, and we were on it at the time. We managed to escape unharmed. It was one of those inexplicable times when your mother ends up being right. That evening, we headed home with the story of the adventure and, of course, a few dozen crab...and the eggs.


Anonymous said...

What a great memory! Your recollections are exactly right. I think Mom once knew somebody who stood on a pier and died.

The reason I ate (eat) with such particularity is that I don't like to dine with my hands messy (psychiatrists, please ignore that). I shell a large pile of whatever, go wash my hands and then eat like a mensch. I don't know if shellfish (definately unkosher) and "mensch" (a Yiddish/German word) can be used in the same sentence, but there you are.

I still remember Yoni feeling a tug on his line and hollering, "Look what caught me!"

Love- Pop

Arties32 said...

There is nothing fun you can think of doing without mom saying she knew someone who died doing it! That's just one of her special gifts. I thought you'd like this post- and also the memories of our early morning crabbing adventures. I remember Yoni saying that, too. Hope you think of me the next time you enjoy a crab feast- just as I think of you every time I crack one. Love-One of your favorite daughters

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Wait a minute.... Is that a steak next to the crab cake in the top picture??!?!? A woman after my own heart.


Arties32 said...

Oh yes, it was a delicious steak, done perfectly because TLMM made it. I have been in the habit of overcooking them- it's a curse I can't break!!!

JB said...

Looks like Ma is shouting her comment! Ha-ha
I remember going crabing. I love the sound the crabs made in the back on the way home. Clink, clink, clink. I think we had them in the pot on the way home.

Arties32 said...

We didn't have them in the pot, but they did make a noise...they were snapping and foaming at the mouth for lack of a better term.

Crab Cake Guy said...

GREAT LOOKING CAKE! Cant wait to try out the recipe myself. Thanks

-The Crab Cake Guy