When you are from Maryland like I am, you can’t wait for the delicacy known as blue crabs enjoyed each summer. The crabs are actually blue but when steamed turn red. Somehow we locals become anesthetized to the kind of gross process of what we call “picking crabs” which is typically done while sitting at a paper covered table—ideally on an outdoor patio (it’s messy!). Every summer we go back east for 10 days to Rehoboth, where my husband’s family owns a house, and one night—with about 40 people—we all sit outside in the ocean breeze and pick crabs. You dip the succulent white meat in vinegar and or butter before popping it in your mouth. And that, my friends, is dinner.
I do like picking crabs–but from a culinary stand point—I like crab cakes even more. Here is my spin on Maryland crab cakes. This recipe makes 5 or 6 medium cakes – with each person being served two. The crabmeat is expensive ($50 bucks or more for a pound) and I strongly suggest resisting the urge to go with a cheaper crab meat. You’ve got to get the premium or jumbo lump meat to truly experience the deliciousness of Maryland crab cakes. If neither of those words is on the label, keep searching.
1-pound premium or jumbo lump crab meat*
1/3 cup sour cream, mayo or 5% fat Greek yogurt
½ to 1/3 cup Progresso Italian Breadcrumbs or Panko breadcrumbs**
¼ chopped parsley
½ stick melted butter
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 Tablespoon finely chopped white or red onion
Optional: 1 Tablespoon finely chopped red pepper/ a couple of dashes of hot sauce/dash of lemon pepper
*In the summertime Gelson’s has jumbo lump meat; sometimes you’ll see it at Costco by the fresh pastas/burrata/mozzarella; or check your local seafood market. You can also get it online from companies like Cameron’s Seafood in Maryland. If you are absolutely dying to try authentic crab cakes, but this all seems like a hell of a lot of trouble – a friend of my family’s sells them with his company The Crabcake Factory and they are excellent. We like the gluten-free ones best, by the way. Less filler; more crab.
**see what it takes to get a firm cake; I try and use only 1/3 cup bread crumbs but sometimes I need more
Strain crab meat and toss into bowl. Add ingredients. Mix. Make crab cakes. Sprinkle a little more Old Bay on top. Rub metal tray with olive oil or butter. Broil crabcakes for 5-10 minutes in oven on each side until golden brown. Note: you gotta really watch these broil – all ovens work differently and it is super easy to overdo and burn. Serve on platter with lemon wedges and or fresh parsley as garnish.
Some people serve crab cakes with a mayo-based tartar or red cocktail sauce but if you’ve got really fresh crab – I prefer to enjoy the flavors unadulterated.
If serving as a lunch – serve on top of butter or red leaf lettuce and tomato and drizzle with vinaigrette.