Crab cakes are a Maryland institution, and the best are Maryland bred. The high priestess of crab cookery is Nancy Devine, who rules the Lexington Market in Baltimore. Her parents, who founded Faidley’s, sold only fresh fish and produce until the early 1970s when prepared foods started making their way into markets and Mrs. Devine decided to start selling her crab cakes.
Through the years her recipe has changed slightly, but she has always made three different kinds of cakes from lump, backfin and claw meat for three different pocketbooks. Mrs. Devine would not give me her recipe but admits that the success of a good crab cake is in using your hands to mix the ingredients. She did, at least, share the ingredients; the rest I deduced by testing. It may not be Mrs. Devine’s exact recipe, but it is a pretty good second guess. The cakes have a crunchy exterior and moist interior. Mrs. Devine attributes the lightness to the addition of saltines, and the great taste to consistency and basic good home cooking.
Lump Crab Cakes
1 pound lump crab meat
1 cup crushed saltine crackers
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg
1 tablespoon each Dijon mustard and yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Vegetable oil for deep frying
1. Spread crabmeat out on a flat pan and sprinkle crushed saltines over the top.
2. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, egg, mustards, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay seasoning and Tabasco sauce. Pour mayonnaise mixture over crabmeat. Using your hands, gently toss, taking care not to break up the lumps of crabmeat. Let mixture stand 5 minutes.
3. Form mixture into 6 mounded rounds about 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Do not pack too firmly. This is very important. The cakes should be as loose as possible, yet still hold their shape.
4. Pour oil into a deep skillet and heat. Deep fry crab cakes a few at a time until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to paper towels to drain briefly. Serves 6.
Recipe by Joan Nathan
Per serving: 310 calories, 22g fat, 16g prot., 9g carbs., 0g fiber, 590mg sodium.
Look for Relish magazine, celebrating America’s love of food, each month in the Tooele Transcript Bulletin. For more Relish recipes and to sign up for our newsletters, log on to relish.com. To download our new tablet app for the iPad and our free mobile app, Relish Daily Dish, go to relish.com/mobile
Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography; styling by Teresa Blackburn