Volume 13, Issue 27 ~ July 7-13, - 2005
Crab Catch
by M.L. Faunce

In Search of the Perfect Crab Cake
The Maryland crab cake is one of the greatest dishes in the world
—James Michener, Chesapeake
From Maine to Florida, you’ll find crab cakes on restaurant menus in summer months. King Eider’s Pub in Damariscotta, Maine, where I spend time, bills itself as Home of New England’s Finest Crab Cake.

That boast doesn’t mean much to a Marylander, for we know there is only one crab cake that makes the earth move.

Recently, a friend visiting me from Texas had only one request for Chesapeake pleasure: Lunch at the Robert Morris Inn on the Eastern Shore in Oxford.

“I think I make a good crab cake,” my Texan friend said, “but I can’t stop thinking about the crab cake I had last year at the Robert Morris Inn.”

I discovered she wasn’t alone in praising the crab cakes served in the tavern of that historic 18th century inn. James Michener — the legendary novelist who sailed the Chesapeake from his college days and later researched the region for his own Chesapeake — discovered what many of us already know: “The Maryland crab cake is one of the greatest dishes in the world,” he said.

Innkeepers Ken and Wendy Gibson won’t divulge their recipe except to say “We don’t use filler. The majority is backfin or lump crabmeat.” Most importantly, they say, there is no shell, no breading.

But you, dear reader, likely have your own favorite restaurant for crab cakes or your own recipe that you make at home.

My mother made great crab cakes, always from the more moderately priced ‘special’ flake crabmeat rather than the pricier ‘lump.’ She simply tossed the crab meat with a beaten egg, scant fresh bread crumbs, some minced parsley and — okay, this notion sends some Marylanders ballistic — green pepper.

Today, I make mine Maryland style, blending the crab meat with a mixture of egg, mayo, Worcestershire, mustard, seafood seasoning, minced onion, celery and cracker crumbs. But when I want a taste of my mother’s home cooking in summer for comfort’s sake, I’ll skip the seasoning and add a little minced green pepper. Hey, it’s my mother.

Recently, Washingtonian magazine published an article on the best crab cakes in the area, naming restaurants in Washington, D.C., and Virginia with only one token Maryland contender. Okay, it is the Washingtonian. But my money is on Maryland.

And now I can’t stop thinking about that crab cake at the Robert Morris Inn, and the Bay Bridge traffic that separates me from the object of my summer desires. Unless I’m thinking about crab cakes from places like these:

  • Angelina’s, Baltimore
  • Bo Brooks, Canton waterfront, Baltimore
  • Stoneys: Broomes Island, Prince Frederick, Solomons
  • Edgewater Restaurant, Edgewater
  • G&M Restaurant, Linthicum Heights (BWI vicinity)
  • Hella’s, Millersville
  • Sunset Restaurant, Pasadena
  • Jerry’s Seafood, Home of the Crab Bomb, Seabrook (near Lanham)

Tell us why your mother’s crab cakes were memorable, or let us know of a restaurant you know that boasts your favorite Maryland crab cakes (write [email protected]).  

This week’s prices
Annapolis Seafood Markets (Annapolis, Edgewater, Severna Park, Waldorf): After the Fourth, a change from North Carolina to Maryland crab —at the same price — is expected.

  • Jumbo Lump: $31.99 the pound
  • Lump: $25.99 the pound
  • Backfin: $18.99 the pound
  • Special: $16.99 the pound

Woodfield Seafood, Galesville: (North Carolina crab)

  • Jumbo Lump: $28 the pound
  • Backfin: $18 the pound
  • Special: $14 the pound
  • Claw: $12 the pound

Whole Foods Market, Annapolis: (unidentified source)

  • Jumbo Lump: $36.99 the pound
  • Backfin: $26.99 the pound

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.