Baltimore Crab Cakes

Posted by on Sep 7, 2011 | 0 comments

There are few things that we Baltimoreans take more seriously than our crab cakes. They must be made with lump back-fin blue crabmeat. They’ve got to have just the right proportions of crab to breading (preferably only enough breading to hold the meat together), just the right level of broiled toasty crispness on the outside, and restraint in the seasoning so as to let all of the naturally sweet crabby goodness shine through and take center stage on the palate.

My first year of college in California, desperate for a taste of home, I was overwhelmed with excitement when I saw “Maryland style crab cakes” on the menu of a fancy restaurant. The chef pushed his interpretation of “Maryland style” to the limits. The crab cakes were made with stringy bits of dungeness crabmeat. They were heavily seasoned, fried, and tiny, and they were accompanied by some sort of avocado salsa. Delicious for some, I am sure. I, however, vowed never to order crab cakes outside of the Mid-Atlantic again.

If reading my description of real Maryland crab cakes makes your mouth water, the next time you are in Baltimore and want a delicious taste of the fruits of the Chesapeake, look no further than Faidley’s stall at the historic Lexington Market. To get an idea of how seriously Faidley’s takes their crab cakes, after asking for cocktail and tartar sauce (typical accompaniments of crab cakes), owner Bill Divine asked me, “Would you put A1 on a Ruth Chris steak?” “No sir,” I replied. He then said, “Well, then why would you even think about putting sauce on these crab cakes–they are perfect!” I replied, “Yes sir, understood.” And man, was he right. The meat in the handmade crab cakes is sweet and plump, and the saltine cracker breading is buttery and soaks up the flavor of the crabmeat. The crab cakes are best enjoyed at the counter while taking in the ambience of the authentic, bustling, and chaotic urban market, but if need be you can also take uncooked crab cakes with you to broil at home. (If you can’t make it to Baltimore or are a Marylander living far from home, don’t panic: Faidley’s will ship them to you, Next Day Air.)