Uncle Frank’s Crab Cakes

Blue crab is a Virginia staple. A healthy heap of Old Bay seasoning spices up these traditional East Coast crab cakes.
Photo by Con Poulos

Courtesy Fisherman’s Corner Restaurant, Tangier Island, Virginia

One of the most remote locales in the Lower 48, Tangier Island pokes from the middle of Chesapeake Bay, rising barely four feet above sea level. The island loses an estimated 15 feet of shore annually due to encroaching seas.

Tangier was settled by English families from Cornwall and Devon in the 17th century. That heritage shows in the Colonial-era dialect still spoken by their descendants. Residents earn livings as crab and oyster fishermen, called “watermen” hereabouts.

Irene Eskridge, co-owner of Fisherman’s Corner, shares a tip on how to make these crab cakes: “They won’t fall apart if you make them up and put in the refrigerator a day before.”

Your Guide to Crab (And How to Cook It)
Ingredients
  • 4 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 3 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1 pound picked blue crabmeat
  • ¼ cup cooking oil, plus more, if needed
  • Cocktail sauce or mayonnaise and lemon wedges, for serving
Directions

Place bread in bowl of food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.
Combine next eight items in mixing bowl.

In separate bowl, fold together crabmeat and breadcrumbs. Gently mix in mayonnaise mixture. Form into patties, about ½ cup each.

Heat ¼ cup oil in large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Fry in batches, adding oil as needed and flipping once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Eskridge recommends serving them with cocktail sauce, but mayonnaise and a squeeze of lemon are also delicious. Serves 4–6.

Pair It

You can’t on Tangier—no alcohol is sold on the island. For mainlanders, we recommend Veritas 2014 Viognier from Monticello ($25, 87 points), Virginia, where Viognier is considered a signature white-wine grape. Round and full in texture, it stands up to the richness of the crab and the umami from the Worcestershire, while lush tropical-fruit flavors complement the layered tones of the dish. Hints of citrus and acidity in the wine also emphasize the dish’s fresh ingredients.

Published on April 20, 2017


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