Or as my kids call them, "Crabby Patties"
Whenever I tell people how easy it is to make crab cakes they look at me as if I'm kidding. I tell them, "If you can prepare a meatloaf and cook a hamburger, you can make a great crab cake!"
If you are a purist and want to do it right, you would buy a bunch of blue clawed crabs, boiling them up, chill the creatures and spend hours picking the meat from their tiny little claws.
I remember as a kid, my dad taking us down to my grandfather's house at the Jersey shore to go crabbing. We came home one time with two bushels of Jersey Blue Claws that had to be cooked and cleaned.
After a while my dad who was doing most of the picking came up with the brilliant idea of using a water pick to blast the meat from those tiny little legs to speed things up. His idea worked but when my mom came in the kitchen, she had a fit when she saw crab meat hanging from the ceiling and walls. My dad ended up having to repaint the entire kitchen.
I find it much easier to buy fresh lump crab meat at my local fish market where someone else has spent hours picking the meat. Great if you can find it, even better if you can afford it.
A more affordable alternative is buying "pasteurized" crab meat in 16 oz cans. Costco sells a Phillips brand that is "hand picked lump" that is not bad at all.
On the label they describe how the Phillips family has been processing crab meat for more than forty years for their Phillips Seafood restaurant. The crab comes from the "tropical waters of Asia, then cooked, hand picked and pasteurized".
Is this crab as good as my dad's water picked fresh crab? No way, but it does make a tasty crab cake. My 6-year-old daughter loves to help me make the crab cakes. She says she's making crabby patties like they do on the SpongeBob cartoons. Whatever works,right?
There are hundreds of recipes out there for crab cakes. I think everyone in Maryland has a secret family recipe. I use the recipe on the can as a guide and then alter it depending on what I have in-house the day I'm making them.
The recipe on the Phillips can calls for Phillips Seafood Seasoning. I substitute Old Bay Seasoning but you can use whatever you like or have on hand.
And don't forget to try my Red Pepper Coulis Recipe with these crab cakes. It's delicious.
Crab Cakes Recipe
- In a good size-mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients together except for the lump crab meat. Be sure to wash your hands (or your kid's hands) first and then get in there and mix all the ingredients together.
- Fold in the crab meat into this mixture but be careful not to overwork it or the nice large "lumps" will break into small pieces.
- How to Cook
- I typically sauté the crab cakes in a little bit of olive oil and butter mixture but you can also bake them in a 375°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Alternatively you can grill them until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F. It's that easy.
- I serve them with a red pepper coulis my wife whips up in the blender.
The Most Delicious Stone Harbor Crab Cakes
Could be the best crab cakes I've ever tasted. I've heard about Back Bay Seafood in Stone Harbor, NJ for years. People have told me they have the best crab cakes and crab chowder on the island. Last night I had the opportunity to taste their crab cakes and they are right.
I was surprised when I entered their store by how small it is. There were three other customers in the shop and when I opened the screen door, they all had to move over so I could get in. In front of me was the back of a big refrigerator and behind that was a small kitchen where I could see three or four people moving around.
Just to the left of the door was the cash register and a nice woman who took my order and checked me out. I was told there could be a long wait but I think that is when you order prepared foods like their Seafood Combination Dinner - Fried or Broiled. When you are there just for their U-Cook-Em Crab Cakes, there is little or no wait unless there is a line out the door I guess. This night there was no line.
The nice lady at the counter asked me if I need cooking instructions and of course I reluctantly said yes. I thought she said bake them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes but when I read a review on their web site, I found articles saying to broil them at 400 degrees but I'm not sure how you do that. When I set my oven to broil, I stick it on broil and am not sure what the temperature it. We baked them and they came out delicious.
How Are They Made
I'm not sure if either co-owner Tom Hegyvari or Keith Meloni are going to share their crab cake recipe with me, but I'll try to contact them and give it a try. I do know from eating them that there is little or no filler in these 5 ounces of crab delight and they may have a subtle coating of breadcrumbs or corn meal on the surface.
I also know from reading the articles on their web site that they use a combination of jumbo lump and blue crab claw meat, herbs and use mayo to bind the crab meat together. I don't know if they are getting their crab meat locally, but I'm guessing if not it is from Maryland or somewhere on the East Coast. I hope so.
We always purchase fresh crab claws from the Avalon Seafood Market, a great source for local seafood but when we stopped there after picking up the crab cakes we were disappointed when they didn't have any. Now they are selling a canned - pasteurized product with crab meat that comes from the "Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean - locations known the world over for producing the best Blue Crab."
They were ok if you put enough cocktail sauce on them but nowhere near as good as the fresh crab claws from Maryland. There was an off taste that I'm guessing comes from the processing and the meat is not as tender or delicate as the fresh local claws.
Back to Back Bay Crab Cakes
The crab cakes are not cheap, $8.50 each but when you compare that with what they charge for crab cakes at one of the nicer local seafood restaurants ($30 to $40 for a pair and I can't image they could be better than these), the price is reasonable. And eating them at home gives you yet another opportunity to enjoy fresh local Jersey corn and tomatoes.
If you are in the Stone Harbor - Avalon area, I encourage you to go to Back Bay Seafood and give their crab cakes a try. And while you are there, you might want to taste their crab chowder and lobster bisque. I know I will next time I'm over there. I think I read they will even ship crab cakes to you overnight.
And of course, if you have a great crab cake recipe you would like to share, I would like to hear about it.