For Maryland Watermen’s Best Crab Cakes Recipe Featured On TV, Guy’s Grocery Games is where you’ll find this Maryland gal showcasing the best crab cake recipe, four generations old.
Ask Any Waterman What Goes Into The Best Crab Cake Recipe
The answer will always be Jumbo Lump Crab Meat, Blue Crabs, if you’re from Maryland!
Trust me, I know.
My sister’s hubby is a fourth generation waterman from the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland.
His two most favorite times of year are oysters and clams in the winter and crabs in the summer.
Nothing but the best jumbo lump crab meat for our family recipes or simply to gather around an outdoor table and eat crabs together.
Let’s Talk About The Crab Meat From Maryland Blue Crabs
Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs, are some of the most sought after crabs in the world!
There is an incredibly deep history that follows these bay crustaceans.
The gathering, the picking, the distributing and the many generations of watermen that provided sustenance for their families with them.
Generations Of Watermen Know The Trials Of Crabbing
I know, my brother in law, Captain Alan Poore, is a 4th generation waterman on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
The life of the watermen is rough.
It can be peaceful, if you look to the fact that every day when you show up for work, you are on your own boat, out on the water with nature.
But it can be rough, because Mother Nature is your boss and sometimes she can throw at these watermen, some pretty rough weather conditions to have to work in.
A True Maryland Crab Cake Recipe Always Has Old Bay Seasoning
This nationally known spice, that boasts a secret ingredient, does in fact let us know a few of its outstanding ingredients that make it so delicious:
- Celery seed
- Black pepper
- Red pepper
- Mustard seed, crushed to a powder
It was right there on the shelf in the spice aisle at Guy’s Grocery Game, grocery store.
While I like to use a squeeze of lemon juice to bring out the flavors in Old Bay seasoning, some folks like a splash of Worcestershire sauce.
For me, the Worcestershire sauce tampers too much with the beautiful white meat of the lump crab.
Old Bay Seasoning History
This diverse and very exotic iconic American spice comes with a fascinating history.
A German born, Jewish spice merchant, Gustav Brunn, was forced to flee Germany and found himself in Baltimore Maryland.
Having brought his talents for spice to our area, he debated with purveyors of a local seafood market in Baltimore about the spice they used.
He assured them, he could tweak it to make it better.
Jewish Immigrant Creates Spice In Maryland’s Culinary World
We know, from the ingredients listed on the purveyors seasoning, found at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, that the base ingredients were: laurel leaves, mustard, salt, pepper, cardamom, cloves, paprika and ginger.
Gustav added celery salt and crushed red pepper to the mix, maybe a few other things, and it became known as Old Bay Seasoning, named after a ship docked in Baltimore.
Eventually, in 1990 McCormick purchased the legal rights to Old Bay Seasoning, and to this day, McCormick is now the distributor.
Preparing Authentic Maryland Crab Cakes From The Grocery Store Of ‘Guy’s Grocery Games’
The challenge that day on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, was to make a family favorite dish.
That was a no brainer for me, since crabs, and crab cakes have been served in my home while growing up, and now my children and their children all love these crab cakes as well.
But, if you know the scoop on Guy’s Grocery Games, they always pose a crazy challenge.
The wheel was spun and it landed on ‘spicy’.
Spicy… Hmmmm, well the recipe I know has only the spices found in the historic Old Bay Seasoning.
I could see this was going to end up a version of my favorite recipe and not the real one, which is why I am providing it for you here!
My California Television Version Of Maryland Crab Cakes
Okay, they want spicy?
I will chop up tiny bits of jalapeño peppers and add them to my crab cake mix.
Not the exact crab cake recipe but… hey, it’s TV!
I put some horseradish in the cocktail sauce along with more jalapenos, grilled a big ole brioche bun and DANG, it wowed the judges!
In fact, Robert Irvine said, “I love this sandwich and would put this crab cake recipe on any menu across America”!
Surely, you must be wondering if I used blue crabmeat on the show?
Nope. The second-best option was Dungeness crabs.
Obviously delicious enough to take me over the finish line and win!
Crab Cakes In My Cookbook
The recipe for these crab cakes can also be found in my ‘tapas-size’ cookbook (great gift for your foodie friends), with lots of stories about the foodie family I am honored to be a part of.
The World On My Plate takes an intimate look into my passion for food and what it ignites around a table.
What To Serve With Maryland Style Crab Cakes
Naturally, what is often served with ‘Real Maryland Crab Cakes’ is Maryland corn!
Freshly picked corn, boiled, baked or grilled, and serves with melted butter, salt and black pepper, or in a lovely Corn Salad.
But let’s be real, who doesn’t love French Fries with their crabs, no matter how the crabs are being cooked!
And, since much of the mid-Atlantic east coast is steeped in British history, museums and artifacts, why not serve my American Twist On British Chips, with your traditional Maryland crab cakes!
Crab Cakes As A Sandwich
A traditional Eastern Shore Crab Cake sandwich is often served on white bread, believing ‘it’s all about the fresh crab meat and not the bread”.
However, while preparing my Maryland crab cake recipe on national television, my son (a professional chef), advised I choose a nice brioche-type bun and quick brown the inside of the bun.
He said to use the same pan I cook the crab cakes, or on a griddle to give it grill marks, imparting some of the crab flavor onto the bun.
The other comment he made to advise his mama, is in browning the inside of the bun, it gives the bread a firm texture so as not to become soggy when adding the hot crab cake.
As An Appetizer
Mini crab cakes make for a spectacular appetizer.
These can be served simply on a plain water-type cracker, with a dollop of tartar sauce or cocktail sauce.
In many events I’ve attended, mini Maryland-style crab cakes are always on the menu, served ‘butler style’!
Solo Crab Cakes
Since this classic crab cake recipe can boast very little filler, unlike what you might find at local restaurants, it is perfect served on a dinner plate with your favorite summer salads.
Or rather my favorite salads with Mediterranean Tahini Salad dressing, afterall, we are all immigrants, bringing our own flavors to local foods!
A Richness Of Other Crab Recipes From Whisk and Dine
What I love most about regional cooking, is that we bring ‘who we are’ to the local produce and create new dishes.
Since I have lived in Maryland most of my life, seafood inspires many of the recipes I create.
Here are just a few of my other favorite crab recipes.
- Fresh Lump Crab Salsa Salad With Tomato – a true celebration of flavors found only in the summer months
- Grandma’s Mac and Cheese Crab Rolls – another winning dish I created (truly it has never been made before), on Food Network’s Clash of The Grandmas
- Crab Tower With Avocado And Mango Salsas – a dish I created for an 8-episode film I also wrote and created called Peas and Carrots
The Debate On The Best Way To Cook Crab Cakes
Yes, there is bound to be a debate as to the cooking method for the best Maryland crab cakes.
Often, you will find that southern cooks prefer to deep fry the crab cakes.
This method is delicious when making appetizer size crab balls.
They are crisp and crunchy.
However, the real deal, for me, is to sauté them in a hot cast iron pan with butter, maybe a drizzle of oil to keep the butter from burning, but butter!
When I have worked large event catering parties with my son, he has us sauté the crab cakes, as explained above in a frying pan, then placed on a baking sheet and kept warm in a hot box.
Remember, the crab meat is already cooked, before making crab cakes, so you are simply in need of creating the golden finish on the outside of the crab cakes.
- Lump Crab Meat
- Old Bay Seasoning
- Lemon juice
- Panko crumbs or saltine crackers
- Mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Cast Iron Pan
- Measuring spoons
Maryland’s Best Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes – Featured On TV
- Cast iron pan
- Slotted spatula
- 1 lb Jumbo lump crabmeat
- 1 tbsp Mayonnaise just a little mayo makes a difference
- 1 Egg
- 1 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
- 2 tsp Lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Panko crumbs or crushed saltine crackers
- Salt to taste
- 2-3 tbsp Butter – 2-3 tablespoons, as needed to sauté as needed to saute
- pinch Cayenne pepper optional
- In a medium bowl, place the mayo, egg, seasoning, lemon juice, bread or cracker crumbs and salt into the bowl and whisk well.
- Gently fold in the crab meat, taking care not to break apart the beautiful lumps of crab.
- Form the crab cakes from the crabmeat mixture and place crab cakes on a plate until ready to cook. This can be done in advance and kept in the fridge, or even frozen at this point.
- In a medium hot pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter at a time, as needed. Place the crab cakes in the pan and sauté until golden on one side. Before turning them over, if more butter is needed, add it, melt it and flip the cakes over. When the underside also turns golden brown, remove from the pan and serve.