by Susie Middleton and Eric Ripert
Traditional or innovative?
For a side-by-side tasting to find the ultimate crab cake, we sought out the most delicious authentic Maryland crab cake we could find and then asked a superstar chef for his original interpretation. Susie Middleton, Fine Cooking’s editor at large and a Chesapeake Bay native, contributed the definitive classic, which also happens to be the recipe she grew up eating. Chef Eric Ripert of New York City’s four-star seafood restaurant Le Bernardin gave us a delightfully fresh, modern version. The battle is on. Cast your vote in our poll.
The key to delicious crab cakes is starting with nice, big chunks of crab (blue crab is traditional) and handling them gently. Look for crab labeled jumbo lump or backfin lump.
Fresh breadcrumbs (and eggs) are used as binders. But use just enough to hold the crabmeat together. Cook’s hint: White sandwich bread yields the absolute best cakes—soft and flaky at the same time.
Peekytoe crab is almost as treasured by chefs as lobster. For Chef Ripert, a quick soak in lime juice and coconut milk for the crab evokes the sunny beaches of the Caribbean. Toasted unsweetened coconut flakes sprinkled on top add a little crunch to these “cakes.” In a nod to the season, a sweet, spiced-up tomato chutney enhances the natural sweetness of the crab.
Photos: Scott Phillips