America has a long-standing history with the crab cake. The actual term dates back to 1930 in Crosby Gaige’s New York World’s Fair Cook Book, where they are referred to as “Baltimore crab cakes,” but historic American cookbooks make reference to “fried crabs,” “dressed crab,” “crab patties” or “crab croquettes,” proving that similar crab recipes have been around since the colonial days.
The Crab Cake easily sits atop every Foodie’s “Favorites List” and for good reason. The phrase alone manages to combine two of our favorite culinary words, “crab” and “cake” into one. Not to mention they take both the mess and the danger out of eating a creature that is notoriously protective of its sweet, succulent meat (I’ve cut my fingers on enough crab shells to know that the threat is real). But what makes a good crab cake, exactly?
Google “crab cakes recipes” and it will elicit a billion search results, with each entry offering a slightly different take than the previous one. There’s the Boardwalk Crab Cake, which is typically breaded, stuffed, deep-fried and served on a hamburger bun and then there’s the Restaurant (or Gourmet) Crab Cake, which is prepared with little-to-no filler, made up of all-lump crab meat, and usually stands on its own. Purists will tell you that the golden cakes should be enjoyed with just a squeeze of fresh lemon, but there’s an assortment of delicious sauces out there that act like the Hall to the crab cakes Oates.
However you like your crab cake prepared is a matter of personal preference, but I can attest to one thing – The Verandah restaurant at Omni Amelia Island Plantation makes some really exceptional ones. It’s an age-old recipe that has been tweaked and perfected over the years. Loaded with jumbo lump crab meat and prepared with some serious chef love, they’re a staple at a restaurant that specializes in fresh, traditional seafood. Complemented by a delectable honey mustard remoulade, plated with a radicchio and mustard green salad and topped with pickled peaches, it’s a dish that locals and visitors alike keep coming back for.
Head chef Lucas Cheek knows all too well about the popularity of Verandah’s crab cakes. After all, he prepares an insane amount of them every day. And when it comes to eager patrons asking him for the secret recipe, his answer is always the same…”Mum’s the word.” …that is, until now.
Behold! a recipe for Verandah’s gourmet crab cakes, prepared by Chef Lucas, himself. Although exact measurements aren’t provided, you’ll find the necessary ingredients for the crab cakes, honey mustard remoulade and braised mustard greens salad, coupled with a short how-to video.
Old Bay Seasoning
Jumbo Lump Crab Meat
Panko Bread Crumb
Instructions: Mix together all liquid ingredients and seasonings. Add breadcrumbs. Fold in crab meat being careful not to shred the crab meat too much. Shape into 4 oz. patties.
Instructions: Reduce cream on medium heat until napé. Fold in reaming ingredients.
Braised Mustard Greens
Mustard greens, chopped
Pickled mustard seeds
Instructions: Add a small amount of oil to a hot saute pan. Wilt the radicchio and mustard greens, careful so they are still slightly crisp. Add the mustard seeds in last. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Every crab cake lover can easily recall in vivid detail the moment that they experienced “The One.” They will be able to tell you the exact location, the time of day, the temperature and relative humidity of the air the very moment they shoved the most glorious forkful of crabmeat into their mouth and were subsequently propelled into crab cake nirvana. My experience happened to be at the Verandah. Who knows, maybe yours will, too. In the meantime, happy cooking.