Crab cakes

by Susan on July 21, 2010

During the summer my dining habits shift. The desire to eat out is replaced by the inspiration to cook at home. Restaurants are replaced by farm stands and fishmongers. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the shift has carried over to this blog. I hope you’ve not only been enjoying the posts, but have been similarly inspired. Maybe this crab cake will help . . .

My husband is from Virginia and we both went to college in Maryland. We have a soft spot for all things Chesapeake Bay. At the top of the list? Crab meat. More specifically, Jumbo Lump Crab meat.

Jumbo lump is the platinum standard of crab meat. The taste and texture is unmatched. It’s succulent, sweet and ideal for crab cakes. Once you have a crab cake made with jumbo lump, you’ll never go back. Or at least not happily.

A good crab cake satisfies a multitude of cravings. It’s protein-packed without being heavy. It’s browned without being greasy. The problem that befalls many a restaurant-prepared crab cake is the use of “filler.” Jumbo lump crab meat is expensive. Very expensive. It has to be hand-picked, a labor-intensive practice that runs the cost up to at least $30/pound. Filler – which can be anything from breadcrumbs to mayo to another type of crab or fish – reduces a restaurant’s raw ingredient costs. It also dramatically reduces the taste and quality of the crab cake.

So why leave yourself, and luscious jumbo lump, at the mercy of a restaurant?

As luck would have it, my mother-in-law is a master of the homemade crab cake. I’ve watched her make them for years, but just last night, made them for the first time myself. Now you can too.

Once you get your hands on the crab meat, the rest is easy. With some saltines, an egg, mayo, mustard, and a kick of cayenne, you’ll be on your way.

Because there is so little filler in these crab cakes, it might seem like they’re falling apart. Just pack them into the tightest cakes you can. Once they start cooking, they’ll stay together better. Ours browned quickly, so we covered the saute pan for a few minutes.

Some folks like to eat these on a bun, but when there’s jumbo lump and no filler, I’m a purist. A dollop of tartar sauce is all they need.

These crab cakes also make a blockbuster appetizer. Just reduce the size of the cakes for a pre-dinner treat.

Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes

1 pound fresh jumbo lump crab meat
8 saltine crackers, crushed
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon country dijon mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Mix all the ingredients together. Shape into four cakes and sauté in hot butter until golden on both sides. Serve with tartar sauce.

Tarter Sauce
is just mayonnaise, mustard, and pickle relish. Make your own!

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