Crab has always been something of a luxury for me. And rightly so. Because I reckon the firm flavourful meat knocks the sweet and more
bland subtle meat of its lobster cousin into a cocked hat. A rare treat here in the UK.
A rare treat, that is, until I went to Maryland where they seem to have crabs coming out of their ears. Tables groaning under the weight of spicy baked crustaceans. Smaller than the great Cornish monsters I was used to, but damn tasty. And then there were Maryland crab cakes. Swoon.
Up to that point I’d had a few crab cakes. bound with potato then baked or fried. The crab would be mixed into the spuds to the point of invisibility, its wonderful flavour smothered by the pillowy mash. But the US version? Not a potato in sight.
Fresh white and brown crab meat
Firm lumps of crab held together, just, by a few breadcrumbs and egg. Some onion to add a little piquancy. And the seasoning, a spicy sharp heady mix that made the white meat sing. Complementing and not hiding the flavour. These were made with the minimum of handling and messing. Just as it should be.
I have of course had some fantastic potato bound crab cakes since then, but to be honest, that approach has never yielded the flavours and textures of Maryland crab cakes. And in my opinion potato works better with smokey fish than crab.
Gently mixed crab meat, onions, breadcrumbs, egg and spices
So if you are ever over the other side of the pond visiting the Chesapeake bay, then whatever you do, don’t leave without scoffing several of the eponymous crabby delights.
US style crab cakes
Makes four or five cakes, this recipe scales beautifully though
I can’t really call these Maryland crab cakes because I don’t have the proper seasoning Old Bay – see links below), but the mix of spices below does a pretty good job. And remember, don’t mix everything too rigorously, you want it to hold together, but only just.
It’s good to mix the white and brown crab meat here as well because the darker stuff adds a real sea-tinted pungency. If you prefer your crab cakes delicate then add more white meat and less brown.
Chilled out waiting for the pan
250g crab meat (white or mixed white and brown)
Half a red onion – finely chopped
6 tblsp breadcrumbs
1 tblsp white flour
Qtr tsp chilli powder
Qtr tsp ground cumin
Half tsp paprika
1 tsp mixed herbs
Salt and pepper to season
Mix together the crab meat, spices and onion carefully with your hands to make sure the lumps of crab meat aren’t broken down. Fold in the bread crumbs, flour and egg very carefully with a spoon.
Shape the mixture into four or five patties and refrigerate for 45 minutes. Then heat some oil and fry for about four or five minutes a side until golden brown.