It's said these past few years have been good for Maryland blue crabs. From the few fishing towns around (Saint Michaels, Crisfield) it looks to be so. That deserves a round of applause and drinks, because those things are one of the best foods you can find. About this time of year I like to celebrate the season with the first (sometimes only) soft crab of the year. I'm always so happy, then a little weirded out, then happy, but from then on I order: crab soup of both makes, crab cakes, and steamed crabs. I spend the late summer making crabcakes, and the late summer/fall eating steamed crabs. Like many families who propagated eating crabs, I have a recipe from 4 generations for my favorite crabcake technique.
Total Time: 15min Active Time: 1hr Number Serves: 4 Equipment: Medium bowl * whisk * spoon * spatula * cast iron (or heavy bottom) skillet with height for frying
crab meat: fresh as possible and taste it if you can. Should taste clean, buttery, and briny. Get a LB of backfin! If you're making a huge batch feel free to pay the extra $ for lump - or get some claw meat for cheaper - but backfin is the crabmeant of my choice. One pound.
1 - 2 tablespoon mayo
1 half - 1 tablespoon mustard (French's works, or any flavor you like)
heaping teaspoon of ground horseradish
2 dashes Worscestshire sauce
parsley, or another herb applied mildly (tarragon, oregano, thyme... but don't overdo it)
couple dashes red and black pepper to taste
Cracker crumbs (I like to crush my own butter crackers - Pepperidge Farm butterfly crackers are terrific but Townhouse, Ritz, or regular crumbs are fine.)
Cooking oil (canola), plus a pat of butter
Potato rolls or crackers
mustard and lemon wedges
Carefully pick through LB of crab meat for leftover shells while gently separating crab chunks
Try to keep the crabmeat cool by having ice under the crab container and the bowl into which it is separated.
double check for shells
Gently make a depression/well in the crabmeat and break an egg into it, stir with fork, add mayo, mustard, wooster, horseradish, mix in the well till egg is broken and combining with mayo
add dry seasonings and fresh herbs
fold egg mixture into crab, attempt to achieve a pliable but moist consistency.
put out a plate of crushed crackers or bread crumbs, with another plate next to it
separate out a crab patty. out of this mixture I aim for 9 patties, so it's a palmfull. squeeze out fluid to pack in mixture (gently), then roll on both sides in crackers. place on other plate. repeat for all patties. put in fridge to chill for a few minutes, and...
Heat up a 1/4 inch of cooking oil in heavy pan to med-med high heat (put on your overhead fan). Heat a pat of butter in the middle of the oil. Add the patties, all of them. It will sizzle.
Turn the heat down to medium or so once the patties start to gain a nice bubble around the edges. (If it starts smell burny remove them from the heat and flip, and return when the heat has lessened.) Make those babies golden brown.
Remove the crabcakes gently from oil and place on a paper towel covered plate. They're ready to serve now (and should smell succulent.)
Meanwhile, toast the buns, or plate some zesta crackers, cubed cheddar cheese, and pickes and mustard.
Traditional side dishes? they include coleslaw and sliced garden tomato.