Crab Cakes: A Primer for Eaties
“There is a saying in Baltimore that crabs may be prepared in fifty ways and that all of them are good.”- H. L. Mencken
After reading the definition of foodies in the Urban Dictionary and seeing that it could be a
“A dumbed-down term used by corporate marketing forces to infantilize and increase consumerism in an increasingly simple-minded American magazine reading audience…”,
I kept a sharp eye out for the black helicopters with food company logos offering to sell magazines. While I was waiting, I decided I am more of an “eatie” than a foodie. I don’t know if I coined a new word or not, but if it is a new word, then you heard it here first.
An Eatie is not a dumbed-downed term used by me. It is a term I use when I think about the food that Yes!Chef! makes. He’s a true Foodie…”A person that spends a keen amount of attention and energy on knowing the ingredients of food, the proper preparation of food, and finds great enjoyment in top-notch ingredients and exemplary preparation.” An Eatie is a person who enjoys the fruits of The Foodie’s labor. (You can steal this word from me, if you would like.) So, I was most happy to be an Eatie to Yes!Chef!’s Crab Cakes.
I had a hankering to eat crab before it was out of season, and Yes!Chef! promised that he would make crab cakes if I picked up some crab at the store. I was happy that crab was on sale at the grocery because I saved about $4.00 per pound.
Because I am not very familiar with the ins and outs of crab cakes, I read up about them and discovered that the State of Maryland seems to have cornered the market on them. I know very little about Maryland (I’ve unfortunately never been there) and I know even less about Crab Cakes. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever tried a true Crab Cake. But I read that there are two type of Maryland crab cakes: the Boardwalk and the Restaurant.
“Boardwalk crab cakes are typically breaded and deep-fried, and are often filled with stuffing of various sorts and served on a hamburger bun.”
“Restaurant crab cakes, which are sometimes called gourmet crab cakes, are often prepared with no filler, and are composed of all-lump crab meat served on a platter or open-faced sandwich. Many restaurants that offer Maryland crab cakes will offer to have the cakes fried or broiled.”
It seems to me that the crab cakes Yes!Chef! made leaned more towards the Boardwalk style, although he did not serve them on a bun. He served them on a bed of micro greens with a lemon dressing. I added an aioli because I thought it needed a little somethin’ somethin’. As I have mentioned before, Yes!Chef! does not care for mayonnaise or sauces made with mayo, but he agreed that the crab cakes could use a little sauce. Don’t get me wrong…his crab cakes his way were very delicious. They were not dry in the slightest. It’s just my humble and somewhat uninformed opinion that proteins taste better with a good sauce.
Flaky and Tasty!
The hardest or most tedious part of making this recipe is retrieving the crab meat from the crab. I had asked the seafood guy at the grocery to clean the crab for me, but I forgot to ask him to crack it a little so that it would be easier to extract the crab. Crabs are a little intimidating to look at and they guard their meat well.
Seriously. Who would approach a creature that had teeth growing on his hands?
Even upside down, the crab looks intimidating.
Mise En Place
Panko is used as the binder (along with an egg). If you have never used Panko before, you really must become acquainted with it. It is a really, really crispy bread crumb found in the Japanese food section of your Super. These crumbs stay crisp in even the most moist of circumstances. They are magic. You can use them on anything you bread or if you need to bind your meat (like meatloaf or…crab cakes.) They are crumbs made from magic bread, I think.
Stick the crab cakes in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes to firm them up.
Beautiful, crispy, good!
Place your greens in a bowl or on a plate and dress them. Then add the crab cake (or cakes) and squirt a little fresh lemon juice on top. You could also drizzle a little salad dressing on top, if you like.
Or…make some aioli sauce and put that on top.
Here’s the recipe he used, which comes from the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen via Epicurious.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
active time: 30 minutes
total time: 40 minutesCrab cakes are so popular in Baltimore, they’re even sold at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Use lettuce instead of a bun, and serve with a squeeze of lemon.
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice plus wedges for garnish
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded, finely chopped
- 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
- 1 1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 head Bibb lettuce
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Whisk first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add crab; fold to blend. Stir in 3/4 cup panko, chives, salt, and pepper. Divide into 6 equal portions. Form each into 1″-thick patties. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes. Line a platter with lettuce leaves.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place remaining 1/2 cup panko on a plate. Coat cakes with panko. Fry until golden brown and crisp, 3-4 minutes per side. Arrange atop lettuce; serve with lemon wedges.
Per serving: 233 calories, 14 g fat, 8 g carbohyrdatesRead more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/neelys/spicy-crab-cakes-with-lemon-aioli-sauce-recipe/index.html
And the Aioli Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped chives
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix the ingredients together and chill for 30 minutes.
A little tip about food photography and flash…
Study the differences between the two shots below. Which one do you like better?
The above picture shows on camera flash (pop up) and off camera flash. (I only use on-camera flash if I am held at gunpoint and told to use it or I die or if I’m in a backlit situation where I can use it as a little bit of fill light.) The biggest difference you will notice is the very hard shadow caused by the on camera flash (top) vs. and softer shadowing on the bottom picture. There is more depth and realism to the bottom picture. It almost comes across as 3D vs. the top photo which appears to be one dimensional.
I realize not everyone can use off camera flash (someday I will show you my quickie set up for off camera flash in the kitchen.) So, the next best thing is window light. If you can’t use window light, then get this little device for bounced pop-up light. I have one of these and they are convenient to use as long as the ceiling is white. There are other devices that you can find to bounce or diffuse the light, but I have not tried them.
And if I had a knife pointed to my throat and was told to use either on camera pop up flash or overhead kitchen light…