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, youll find crab cakes on restaurant menus in summer months. King Eiders Pub in Damariscotta, Maine, where I spend time, bills itself as Home of New Englands Finest Crab Cake.
That boast doesnt 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 cant stop thinking about the crab cake I had last year at the Robert Morris Inn.
I discovered she wasnt 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 wont divulge their recipe except to say We dont 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 mothers home cooking in summer for comforts sake, Ill skip the seasoning and add a little minced green pepper. Hey, its 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 cant 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 Im thinking about crab cakes from places like these:
- Angelinas, Baltimore
- Bo Brooks, Canton waterfront, Baltimore
- Stoneys: Broomes Island, Prince Frederick, Solomons
- Edgewater Restaurant, Edgewater
- G&M Restaurant, Linthicum Heights (BWI vicinity)
- Hellas, Millersville
- Sunset Restaurant, Pasadena
- Jerrys Seafood, Home of the Crab Bomb, Seabrook (near Lanham)
Tell us why your mothers crab cakes were memorable, or let us know of a restaurant you know that boasts your favorite Maryland crab cakes (write firstname.lastname@example.org).
This weeks 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