Sunday, December 21, 2008

Its Crab Season!

Now that I'm back in the Pacific Northwest, I have access to the freshest seafood from the coast of Oregon and right now, its Dungeness crab season. I love all shellfish but fresh crab is hard to beat anywhere. One of my favorite things to do with crab is make crab-cakes. Not those breaded cakey things loaded with other vegetables and tons of bread crumbs, but REAL crab-cakes with tons of lump crab meat and nothing else!

Having grown up on the east coast in Delaware and gone to summer camp on the Chesapeake Bay, I grew up on blue crab which we had any number of ways. It was common in the summer to have big parties with bushel baskets of blue crab that had been cooked in a spicy "crab boil" and then thrown out onto newspaper covered picnic tables with little wooden hammers to crack the crab and then just suck down that delicious meat along with the spices from the boil which would make your lips burn just slightly. And how could I ever forget soft shelled crab sandwiches? Oh boy, when I think of the hometown foods from my childhood, I think of Chesapeake Bay blue crab, Maryland crab-cakes, Tastycakes, submarine sandwiches, cheese steak sandwiches, scrapple, Hires rootbeer, sweet Jersey corn on the cob and Herr's potato chips. For now, I will have to settle for the hometown flavors of Maryland style crab-cakes.

Here is my favorite basic recipe that comes from a great cookbook called The Chesapeake Bay Cookbook and the recipe is for Gertie's Crab Cakes. This is just too perfect a recipe to mess with so I use it entirely as is:

Gertie's Crab Cakes
1 egg
2 T mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
dash Tobasco sauce
1 pound picked crabmeat
1/4 cup cracker crumbs (not bread crumbs!)
Veg oil for frying

In a mixing bowl combine the egg, mayo, mustard, pepper, Old Bay, Worcestershire and Tobasco and mix until frothy.

Place the crabmeat in a bowl and pour the mixture over the top. Sprinkle on the cracker crumbs and gently toss together trying not to break up the bigger chunks. (I get saltines and grind up in the mini Cuisinart)

Form the cakes by hand into 3 inch wide and 1 inch thick rounded mounds. Do not pack the crab-cake batter together too firmly. Keep as loose as possible but still holding together.

Heat oil to 375 and fry the cakes in about a 1/2" of oil a few at a time until golden brown on both sides. About 3 minutes total and remove to paper towels to drain. Serve at once.

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