Saturday, May 29, 2010

Crab Cakes

Several years ago, we had a spate of complaints about our crab cakes. They were all along the lines that our crab cakes have no flavor, that they're tasteless. After several years of no complaints, we've had another recent rash of similar complaints.

Our crab cakes are made from the best blue crab we can buy, mayonnaise, celery, parsley, panko, salt, and white pepper. That's it. Over the years, I've tried every binder known to man for holding crab cakes together (béchamel, fish mousse, scallop mousse, egg whites, sour cream, etc.) and the best binder hands down is a mayonnaise made with a neutral oil.

Crab meat has a very delicate flavor that is easily overpowered by other flavors. This is why I especially despise crab cakes containing any form of assertive bell pepper or, God forbid, Old Bay seasoning, which reeks of celery seed. Some people actually like to taste bell pepper or celery seed rather than the $18 per pound crab. If that's your preference, fine; it's not mine though.

The complaints come from one of two kinds of people. The first is someone who actually prefers to taste bell pepper and celery seed to crab. I don't understand their point of view, but they're entitled to it. I just wish they'd allow that my crab cakes are well made, just not to their taste.

The second complainant is one who does not perceive the value of expensive fresh blue crab bound with just as few additives as are necessary to hold the crab meat in a cake. These are the ones who tell me that the frozen crab cakes (that are short on crab and long on filler) at Costco are as good or better than mine. I wish these people, rather than pick on my crab cakes, would just say that mine are too expensive for them. That's really what their gripe is, so why not just say it?

In any case, the complaints are few and far between and for each, we have served thousands of other customers who have loved the crab cakes. And I'm not changing my recipe regardless of what anyone says.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree.
    I haven't been to OBW yet, but plan to soon and will order these delectable crab cakes.
    That's Americans tastes these days. Most don't know what real food should taste like.
    Good for you for sticking to your culinary guns!

  2. I absolutely love your crab cakes! Obviously some people have no taste for real crab! My mother use to add a little mustard.

  3. Kat Petty, Katarine EnterprisesDecember 22, 2010 at 12:08 AM

    These people who do not like your crab cakes obviously have no clue on the delicate flavor of fresh blue crab when it isn't masked by other flavor enhancers. Either that or they are a,heavy smokers, or B, had alcohol before or during eating your crab cakes. I had your crab cakes this summer when I was there, and found them to be the best "real" crab, and the freshest! Infact, I plan on having them again when I make it back to Winchester.

  4. Their dislike has nothing to do with your crabcake. When it comes to crabcake recipes you may want to consider what your customer has grown up on, and for many Virginians and Marylanders that’s Old Bay. If the confused customer’s mother used it in her crab cakes they will be indoctrinated beyond any sound rationale. Below are some lyrics from Alan Jackson’s song, “Where I Come From” that sums it up pretty well:

    Well I was south of Detroit City
    I pulled in this country kitchen
    To try their brand of barbecue
    The sign said finger-lickin'
    Well I paid the tab and the lady asked me
    How'd I like my biscuit
    I'll be honest with you ma'am
    It ain't like mama fixed it

    Susan Walters from Norfolk, VA