If you've ever ordered or prepared crab, you know it
takes some work—and a pick and a nutcracker—to
make the most of it. To enjoy a crab cake, though, takes
only a fork and your appetite. It's the easy way to eat
this sweet seafood, and it can be the most delicious—
whether it's a crisp-edged ball of pearly crabmeat with
just a pinch of seasoning, or a wild and crazy kaleidoscope of
crab, spices, grains and veggies.
We like to try crab cakes wherever we travel, and the variety
is endless. At seaside honky-tonks and fish shacks, you'll find
them big as burgers and deep-fried so they have a brittle,
crunchy crust. In linen-napkin restaurants, a crab cake might be
the most expensive item on the menu—a mound of the choicest
crab, griddle-cooked or broiled just long enough to give it a
fragile, golden crust. A restaurant in Crisfield, Maryland, called
The Cove (where the nearby water tower is decorated with a
painting of a crab) serves crab cake sliders on itty-bitty buns.
Not all crab cakes are necessarily made
of crab. In Baltimore, cafes and diners offer
"coddies," known as poor man's crab cakes
because they're made from inexpensive cod,
but with all the seasonings that would go into
the high-priced crab version. If this is poverty,
call us penniless.
Many experts believe the best crab cakes
are found around the Chesapeake Bay. All
along the Eastern shore, cooks use big pieces
of meat, known as jumbo lumps, to make
cakes that are nearly all crab with hardly any
filling. Most restaurants that serve these classy
crab cakes boast maître d's and wine lists. But some of the very
best can be savored in Baltimore's Lexington Market, a grazing
wonderland of bakers, butchers and quick eats of all kinds. There,
a seafood joint named Faidley's, that's been around since 1886,
has a reputation for crab cakes. Each cake is hand-fashioned
using the choicest hunks of crab and so fragile that the mere
poke of a fork makes it fall into a jumble of silky morsels. Near
Yosemite National Park, a rollicking family restaurant in Oakhurst,
California—appropriately named Crab Cakes—says its version
of Baltimore crab cakes is so good because they use Grandma
Marie's recipe. Grandma Marie, we salute you!
In New Orleans and all along the Gulf of Mexico, spice rules.
The seasoning in crab cakes can range from a peppery whisper
to howling hot. You'll find some of the best at Sarah K's Gourmet,
a takeout shop in Destin, Florida, where you can choose between
half-pound jumbo lump crab cakes ("100% crab and no filler")
or Ping-Pong ball-size baby cakes by the dozen. In the Northwest,
the creamiest meat comes from the Pacific's
Dungeness crabs. At a storefront cafe called
Halibuts in Portland, Oregon, the cakes are
pancake-shaped with a crisp, golden crust,
laced with just enough spice to bring out
their fresh ocean flavor.
If you want to experience the pleasures of
crab cakes at home, try the incredible recipes
from readers below. Fish markets and
many grocers carry fresh-picked meat, as well
as whole crabs for those who like to steam
their own. And if a recipe has lots of other
flavors, canned crab works fine.
Crab Cake Recipes
Eastern Shore Crab Cakes
In Delaware, we're surrounded by an abundance of fresh seafood, particularly terrific crab. The secret to great crab cakes is fresh crab meat, not too much filler and not breaking up the crab too much. This Eastern Shore Crab Cakes recipe does all that.
—Cynthia M Bent, Newark, Delaware
Herbed Cornmeal Crab Cakes
I created these crispy Herbed Cornmeal Crab Cakes to include some of the fresh herbs from my garden. My husband loves them and requests them quite often.
—Sheri Mosely Clermont, Florida
Sweet Potato Crab Cakes
Mild sweet potato flavor and a chipotle kick complement the fresh crab in these hearty Sweet Potato Crab Cakes. Serve them with your favorite mayo or aioli sauce.
—Robert Bosley, Pacific, Washington
Michael and Jane Stern, authors
of more than 40 books, travel
the country looking for great
food. For more of their culinary
discoveries, visit roadfood.com