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Best of the Bay Recipes - Crab Cakes

Capture the Flavors and Culinary Traditions of the Chesapeake Bay

Crab Cake Recipe

The culinary traditions of the Bay area have been influenced by history dating back hundreds of years. It was 1607 when Captain John Smith first saw the Chesapeake Bay at what was to become Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English Settlement. From the writings in his journal it is clear that these early settlers quickly recognized that they had landed in a paradise of riches. Smith quipped in his journal that the fish were so plentiful that they would simply catch them "with our frying pans." The Bay was abundant with crabs, clams, oysters and fish -- and the surrounding areas alive with wildlife.

But these early settlers were not the first to revel in its bounty. The Powhatans had long inhabited its shores, naming it "Tschiswapeki" or the "Great Shellfish Bay." The Native American women produced plentiful crops of corn, squash and beans and archeological digs of native villages discovered large quantities of shells revealing the Powhatan's love of oysters, clams and other shellfish. From this history the Chesapeake Bay area's cuisine has evolved.

Today, the Chesapeake Bay Cuisine is famous for its wealth of seafood: Crab Cakes, Oyster Stew, Steamed Crabs, She Crab Soup, Crab Chowder, Baked Stuffed Rockfish, Oyster Fritters and much more. These are the culinary favorites steeped in tradition and prepared with intense pride. The "locals' are perhaps the best known for their culinary love affair with the famous Blue Crab, so lets begin our exploration of the time-honored cooking traditions of the Chesapeake Bay with the ubiquitous Blue Crab.

Crab Cakes Recipe

There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of recipes for crab cakes - every crab-loving family has their favorite. What we present here is a basic, traditional and delicious recipe made with the finest grade crab meat.

1 egg,
½ cup of finely broken cracker crumbs (use a high quality cracker with a delicate flavor for the best results),
3 tablespoons mayonnaise,
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice,
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper,
2 teaspoons Chesapeake Bay Seasoning (such as Old Bay),
1 pound Jumbo Lump Crabmeat,
1 dash of Tabasco (optional)

Jumbo Lump Crabmeat should have very few pieces of shell, however you should pick through it carefully and remove any pieces you see (or feel). Handle the crabmeat gently as you do this. Place the crabmeat in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the fine cracker crumbs over it tossing very gently until the crabmeat is covered evenly.

In a second bowl, beat the egg and add the mayonnaise, lemon juice, bay seasoning and ground pepper. Wisk these ingredients together until the mix is a bit frothy. Pour the mix over the crab meat and gently toss until well mixed. Form the crab cakes by hand taking care not to over handle or pack too tightly - the cakes should be as loose as possible while still holding their shape. (If the cakes are not holding their shape, you can add additional cracker crumbs, but try to add as little as possible). This mix will yield 4 large crab cakes or 6 slightly smaller ones (8 appetizer size).

Sauté the crab cakes in Extra Virgin Olive Oil until golden brown on both sides (8 to 10 minutes). You can also broil the crab cakes if you prefer, 4 to 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Serve with lemon slices or tartar sauce and enjoy!

Laura W Marchiori
Chesapeake Bay Gift Baskets

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