Crab Cakes And Soft Shell Crabs | WYPR

Crab Cakes And Soft Shell Crabs

Sep 18, 2019

Conventional wisdom in Chesapeake Bay Country holds that September is actually the best month of all for crabs.  After all, they've had all summer long to get fat and happy, and supplies are never more abundant.  Chef Jerry Pellegrino has a few ideas about all this bounty from the bay. Here are a few recipes.

The Traditional Maryland Crab Cake

Ingredients (makes 6 8oz. crab cakes)

1 lb. Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab meat, drained and gently picked clean of shells

2 lbs. Maryland Lump Crab meat, drained and gently picked clean of shells

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 cup Old Bay Aioli (recipe to follow)

1 ½ cups crushed saltine crackers (alternatively you can use the same amount of bread crumbs but cracker crumbs are what they use on the Eastern Shore)

½ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional – it is one of the more heated debates as to whether or not parsley goes in a ‘traditional’ Maryland crab cake)

5 or 6 dashes of Tabasco or other hot sauce

1 teaspoon fine grind sea salt

In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except the crab meat until well combined. Add the two pounds of lump crab meat and gently fold it into the other ingredients. Add the jumbo lump crab meat and gently fold until well combined, trying not to break up any lumps of crab meat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the mixture to set.  Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and compact with your hands into a ball. To broil the crab cakes, place each ball on a greased cookie sheet and press gently to flatten one side. Place on the middle rack of the oven and broil until the tops are golden brown and the crab cake is heated through. To pan fry the crab cakes, heat ½ inch of neutral oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat until just smoking. Take each crab cake and flatten it slightly as if making a hamburger patty. Carefully place in the hot oil. Allow the first side to brown then flip the crab cake over and brown the other side. Repeat with all of the other crab cakes.

Old Bay Aioli

Ingredients – this makes more than enough for one batch of crab cakes but it is also great on sandwiches, in shrimp salad, etc. and keeps for one week in the refrigerator

2 cups canola or vegetable oil

6 egg yolks

1 lemon – zest and juice

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 Tablespoons Old Bay Seafood Seasoning

1 teaspoon fine grind sea salt

5 or 6 dashes of Tabasco or other hot sauce

Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor set with the chopping blade. Turn the food processor on and combined all the ingredients, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, SLOWLY add the olive oil through the ingredient port in the top of the machine. Continue adding the oil in a slow steady stream until all of it has been emulsified into the aioli. The aioli should be very thick. Refrigerate for at least one hour before using and up to one week.

Crab and Avocado Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Crab Salad

2 lb. Maryland lump crab meat

1 tbs. mayonnaise

Juice of ½ lemon

Salt and Pepper

Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

1 ½ lemons, zested and juiced

½ Ruby Red Grapefruit, juiced

1 tbsn. Honey

¼ c. grapeseed (or any neutral) oil

Heavy Cream (optional)

Salt and Pepper

2 avocados

Crab Salad Preparation:

Bring stockpot of water to a boil. Immerse crab and cover with a gap for steam to escape. Boil for 12-15 minutes. Remove from boiling water and cool. Remove meat and set aside in bowl to cool.

In a small bowl, mix crab with ½ tablespoon mayonnaise. Add more to your liking. Fold in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Set in fridge until ready to use.


In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, zest, grapefruit juice, honey, salt and pepper until combined. While whisking constantly, slowly stream in oil to emulsify. If you’d like a creamy dressing, in a separate bowl, bring heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold in ½ a teaspoon at a time into the dressing, until it reaches the desired consistency.

Salad Construction:

Quarter and peel avocados, then season with salt and pepper. Place a generous tablespoon (or pinch) of crab salad on top. Drizzle vinaigrette (about 1 teaspoon) on top of crab and avocado. Garnish with microgreens and a dash of olive oil, if desired.