20 June 2014

Summertime Small Plates - Crab Cakes and Lemon

Crisped on the outside - soft and hot and chewy on the inside, these are NOT the typical Maryland version of crab cakes. These are spicy and moist with Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and mayonaisse. Lump crab meat is used and barely tossed so as to keep the chunks of meat intact. Fresh bread crumbs and an egg glue everything together and the cakes are chilled in the fridge for about an hour to set things up. Then, they are fried fast in bubbling butter and vegetable oil ... served hot from the pan with a drizzle of lemon juice and a cold beer, they are summer on a plate!

We had this version of crab cakes ages ago when we visited Williamsburg, Virginia and loved them so much that I asked about the recipe. The waitress at the tavern told me about this cook book that highlighted many of the colonial and restaurant recipes from the various taverns and cafes at the site; I knew I'd be making the crab cakes now and then.

I sometimes serve them with an aioli sauce for dipping, but lemon slices accompanying this batch seem so pure and perfect for a prelude of summer eating!

Christiana Campbell’s Tavern Crab Cakes
a recipe from The Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook

Serves 4

1 lb. lump crab meat, picked over
3 slices white sandwich bread, whizzed to crumbs in a food processor
½ c. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. butter

Making the Dish:

  1. Mix the mayo, mustard, parsley, scallions, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the lump crab meat and the bread crumbs, tossing gently to combine without breaking the crab meat up too much.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly into 8 clumps and form flattish balls .
  4. Set them on a platter in one layer and chill for an hour.
  5. Heat the oil and butter in a large fry pan over medium-high heat. The pan should be larger enough to take all eight of the crab cakes at once.
  6. When the butter is bubbly, add the crab cakes and let them fry without touching them for three to four minutes. Use two spatulas to gently turn them and continue frying for three to four more minutes. The outsides of the cakes should be crisp and deep golden brown.
  7. Drain the cakes briefly on a paper towel-lined platter and then gently place them on a bed of greens and serve with lemon slices and cold beers.


  1. oh my, these are making my mouth water so much... I do adore a crab cake and I bet the lemon just brings the whole thing to life... these are like summer on a plate!

  2. "The Spice Garden" has been included in our Arlynda Lea's Sites to See #5. We hope this helps to call attention to your efforts.


  3. Since I am a inlander (is that even a word?) I don't know what a traditional Maryland crab cake is. What i do know is that these are making my mouth water! I want one (or two or three) right now.


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