Credit: Deposit Photo
My grandmother spent almost her entire life in Baltimore. Every summer my grandfather would take out his boat several days a week and he would catch a bushel of crabs and bring them home to be steamed. I stayed with them often in the summer and I have vivid memories of sitting around the dining room table and picking crabs. We would separate the meat for crab cakes or soup or just eat the steamed crab meat on saltine crackers with ketchup.
As a little girl I loved helping in the kitchen and my Mommom was the most patient of all of the adults in my life when it came to letting me be in the room while she was working and letting me help. The other ladies would let me watch, but Mommom would let me actually make the food. She let me put my hands in the batter and form the balls and she didn’t care at all if they came out perfect. As a result, hers are the recipes that are ingrained in my memory. I don’t need to look them up. They are etched in my brain and I can see the pink enamel bowl and the gold flecks on the laminate countertops in her tiny kitchen as I recreate them for my own family.
Mommom’s Maryland Crab Cakes:
- 1 pound of jumbo lump crab meat
- 1 piece of white bread (this is a good use for the heel)
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon mayonaise
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Old Bay to taste
- In a large bowl add the crab meat to one side of the bowl.
- Break the bread into tiny pieces or crumbs in the other side of the bowl. Do not let any of the other ingredients mix with the crab yet.
- Break the egg onto the bread and beat it into the bread crumbs with a fork. Add all of the other ingredients to the bread and egg side of the bowl, whisking with the fork.
- Set down the fork, remove your rings, and use your clean hands to slowly and gently work the egg mixture through the crab meat, careful not to break up the large lumps of crab.
- Separate the mixture into four equal parts (this recipe makes four crab cakes) and gently pat each section into a patty about the size of your palm.
- In a medium frying pan, melt a tablespoon of butter and fry the crab cakes until they are golden brown on each side, turning them once. (You can also broil them, but my grandmother never did.) They do not take long because the egg is the only ingredient that needs to cook.
As adults we have lived up and down the east coast between Florida and Pennsylvania, but I have learned to never eat crab cakes outside of Maryland unless they are being prepared by a transplanted Maryland cook. They are one of those things that are actually incredibly easy to make that people sometimes find intimidating. Mommom and many of the other Baltimore grandmothers had a limited food budget and were making crab cakes because they were economical, we could catch crabs ourselves all summer long and get meat for free. Don’t worry about trying to make them fancy. These crab cakes aren’t supposed to be.
Old Bay Affiliate link provided for your convenience.
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