Rebecca Bent | Burgers | Clarkson Potter, 2004 | Serves 4
When I was growing up, every summer weekend, my father’s family would pull out the newspapers, line the picnic tables, and have a crab feast overlooking the Chesapeake Bay It was during one of those festive occasions that I had my first crab cake. My grandmother, Edna, had a secret to her crab cakes: Simply put, “Don’t mix it up too much”—wise advice that I use to this day.
The trick here is to fry the crab cake quickly before it falls apart. More expensive crabmeat, mostly “back fin,” is sometimes so lumpy that it doesn’t hold together. In that case, I break apart a few of the lumps so there will be smaller pieces to help hold it together. Another trick is to include more mayo, but I would do that only as a last resort.—Rebecca Bent
1 large egg, beaten
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely chopped pimientos
8 crumbled no-salt saltine crackers (4 to go inside crab cake, 4 to coat crab cake)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning (for mild flavor; add 2 extra teaspoons for a spicier version)
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 pound lump crabmeat. picked over for shell slivers and cartilage
1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying
4 white rolls, sliced and toasted
4 1/4-inch-thick tomato slices, optional
3/4 cup prepared tartar sauce, for serving
1. In a medium bowl, combine the egg, mayonnaise, pimiento, 4 of the crumbled crackers, salt, Old Bay , and parsley. Mix well. Gently fold in the crabmeat and form into 4 patties without “mixing it up too much.” The patties will be fairly wet. Gently coat with the remaining 4 crumbled crackers on both sides.
2. Preheat a skillet, coat the bottom with the vegetable oil, and fry the crab cakes over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Gently turn with a thin metal spatula.
3. Place a crab cake on each roll with a tomato slice, if using, and serve with a ramekin of tartar sauce for dipping.
Recipe © 2004 Rebecca Gareis-Bent. Photo © 2004 Ben Fink. All rights reserved.