This Saturday and Sunday, August 15th and 16th, Monmouth Park in Oceanport will fill with the aroma of crab cakes frying, a lure for the senses as powerful as any.
The Ninth Annual Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off is expected to attract upwards of 15,000 people each day, says marketing manager Brian Skirka.The festival hours are noon to 5 pm each day.
Chefs from Shore restaurants will compete to create the most compelling crab cake. On Sunday a panel of six judges will choose the best crab cake. Winners will be selected in other categories as well, including best fish dish and fan favorite.
In addition to crab cakes, the following restaurants will sell seafood dishes:
–Bahr’s Landing, Highlands – Seafood Chili
–Ike’s Famous Crab Cakes, Ocean City – Soft shell Clam Strips
–Off the Hook Food Truck – Down East Maine Chilled Lobstah Rolls
–Palm Restaurant, Atlantic City – Ahi Tuna Steak Sandwich with Wasabi Mayo
–Point Lobster, Point Pleasant – Hot Lobster Roll
–Simply Southern, Belmar – Fried Catfish
Parking is $4 and admission is $3. Visitors can enjoy thoroughbred horse racing and live music. For kids, there will be face painting, pony rides, a bounce house and other fun things to do, as if eating fresh-fried crab cakes is not fun enough.
I happen to love crab cakes, and as a cooking teacher I’ve showed many students how to make them. There are a few key points to keep in mind…
- The type of crab meat is important. Four varieties are generally available.
- Jumbo lump – the most expensive; the pieces are the biggest and sweetest, but generally are too large to cohere well with the other ingredients.
- Lump – slightly less expensive, these smaller solid chunks of body meat are best in flavor and texture for crab cakes.
- Backfin – broken shreds of lump meat give crab cakes a pasty consistency. Not what you want. Spring for lump crab.
- Claw – small dark bits of meat with a fishy flavor.
- Use just enough binding to hold the mixture together.
- Additions such as peppers, onions and celery should be chopped small to prevent air pockets forming in the crab cake when it cooks. A dollop of mayonnaise creates creaminess, a dash of hot sauce and/or lemon juice brightens the flavor.
- When compressing the ingredients into patties, use an ice cream scoop to keep the mixture tight. You can also set a round cookie cutter on a sheet pan and fill the cookie cutter with crab mixture, compress it with your fingers and lift the cookie cutter.
- Lightly coat the outside of each patty with fine bread crumbs for a crispy exterior and chill the crab cake for at least 30 minutes before cooking to help hold it together when it cooks.
- Fry the crab cakes in about 1/2-inch of hot oil.
- Do not crowd the pan or press down on the patties.
- Flip only once, when the bottom is golden brown.
- When both sides are evenly browned, remove to flattened brown paper bags to drain before serving.
Here is the recipe I give my students…
Makes 6 large, 12 medium or 36 small
16 ounces Lump Crabmeat
6 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
6 Tablespoons Bread Crumbs
2 Egg yolks
2 Tablespoons Green Pepper, diced small
2 Tablespoons Scallion, diced small
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
3/4 cups Bread Crumbs
6 tablespoons Grated Romano cheese
1 tablespoon Dried Basil
1 tablespoon Dried Oregano
½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
½ teaspoon Onion Powder
½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ teaspoon Salt
Oil for frying
- Blend the crabmeat, mayonnaise, 6 tablespoons of bread crumbs, egg yolks, pepper, scallions, and Worcestershire and lemon juice in a bowl. Form the mixture into patties of desired size. In a separate bowl, mix bread crumbs, cheese, and spices.
- Cover each side of the crab patties in the crumb mixture. Shake off excess.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet and sauté the crab cakes.
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