Esquire's resident chef offers up a classic street food recipe.
Baltimore’s Lexington Market was once the centre of fresh produce in the city. Today, it still has a few stalls trading in seasonal fare, but the majority are fried chicken and Asian fast food stalls. The centrepiece of the market is Faidley’s seafood, which produces the best crab cakes in Baltimore.
A few years back, I went on a foodie pilgrimage to Faidley’s. The queue was 50 people deep, so we gave it a miss and settled for raw clams and oysters, with a helping of fried chicken gizzards on the side. The next day we got there early and it was worth the effort.
Indeed, their crab cakes are so well regarded locally that the recipe has made John Shields’ fine Chesapeake Bay Cooking cookery book, from which I’ve lifted it here. Try to buy fresh crabs for this, cooked or alive, and avoid using pasteurised or frozen meat, as it tends to be dry. If you’re preparing the crabs yourself, save the shells for a bisque.
450g freshly picked chunky white crabmeat
100g matzo meal or dried white breadcrumbs
1tbsp Dijon mustard
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
A few drops of Tabasco
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Vegetable or corn oil for frying
Olive oil for frying
Spread the crabmeat out on a flat tray and check for shell bits, then scatter over the matzo. Mix the mayonnaise, egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco together and season, then mix with the meat, taking care not to break the crab down too much. Leave for 3-4min then form into eight cakes. Stick in the fridge for an hour. Heat 2-3cm of vegetable oil and olive oil mixed in a deep frying pan and fry the cakes for 2-3min on each side until golden. Serve with tartare sauce, tomato relish and salad.
Photograph by Jason Lowe