Crab cakes are to Maryland what bubbles are to soda. Everywhere you go in Maryland, from restaurants to roadside stands you'll find crab cakes, and they range from sublime to awful. Everyone in Maryland, it seems, has an opinion about crab cakes. Some like them round and light like balls, others insist they should be flat and dense. I prefer crab cakes that are mostly crab, with just a few other ingredients to enhance their flavor and keep them from failing apart.
I searched all over Maryland for the perfect crab cake to no avail. Not until I reached South Carolina and the home of friends Ruth Ann and Frank Shuman did I find perfection. Ruth Ann has made crab cakes for years and she uses a traditional Maryland recipe "with a little extra crab." Serve these with coleslaw and a light Chardonnay.
1/2 cup soft fresh bread crumbs
1 large egg
About 5 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 scallions, trimmed, the white bulbs and light green stems minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
1 tablespoon unsalted butter plus 1 tablespoon bland vegetable oil, such as safflower, for frying
In a medium-size bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, egg, 4 tablespoons of the mayonnaise, the scallions, parsley, and the seasonings. Add the crabmeat and mix gently. If the mixture is too dry, add the remaining 1 tablespoon mayonnaise. (Add additional mayonnaise if the mixture will not hold together and is still dry.)
Shape the mixture into 6 patties.
Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and lightly smoking, add the crab cakes and cook until golden, about 5 minutes on each side. Serve immediately with coleslaw.