Friday, August 24, 2007
Eastern Shore Crab Cakes
You can't visit the Eastern Shore of Virginia, situated between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, and not have a crab cake. After all, this is the place where watermen (the local word for fishermen) make their living catching crabs. So it goes without saying that if you're in an Eastern Shore restaurant that plans to stay in business (like the Exmore Diner on Business Route 13 in Exmore, about 25 or 30 miles north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel), the crab meat will be fresh and the crab cakes hand made.
These aren't the hocky pucks tossed in a deep fat fryer that you get in chain restaurants or in the frozen section of your local grocery store. Real crab cakes, like this one I had today, are so light they barely hold together and are grilled or satueed rather than fried. And there is very little filling to distract from the delicate flavor of the crab.
I got this recipe about a decade ago when Mike and I visited Tangier Island, a remote Eastern Shore community accessible only by boat. We had dinner that night at the Chesapeake House restaurant and stayed at the Crocket Inn (both owned by the same family). This recipe was printed in the Virginian Pilot, which had been framed and hung in the hall of the inn (which is where I copied it from). It's become my favorite crab cake recipe.
Tangier Island Crab Cakes
3 lbs. lump (or claw) crabmeat
5 slices white bread, crust removed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tablespoons mayo
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire
3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)
3 Tablespoons prepared mustard
3 Tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil, for frying)
Lemon wedges, for serving)
Hamburger buns (optional, if serving as sandwiches)
Put crabmeat in a bowl and pick through for shells. Quickly dip bread into water and squeese with hands to remove excess. Break into pieces and add to crabmeat. To eggs add mayo, Worcestershire, parsley (if using), mustard, Old Bay and stir to combine. Add crabmeat to egg mixture and toss lightly with a wooden spoon (if you mix it too much the crabmeat will break apart). Form into patties, about 1/2-inch thick. Place on a baking sheet and chill about 1 hour. Heat oil in skillet and gently saute crab cakes until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes on each side. Serve with lemon wedges or on hamburger buns.