An Incredible Edible Gift
My daughter, Robin, was in Baltimore recently. On her return, she surprised me with the most precious of food gifts: a crab cake (all jumbo lump meat) from Faidley Seafood in Lexington Market. I opened the packaging reverently and placed the sealed, pre-cooked crab cake on a refrigerator shelf, front and center. It would be my next meal. Hmmm. . . It was big enough for two meals, so I cut it in half to double the joy.
Now I’ve blogged about Faidley seafood before. My family’s been eating their award-winning crab cakes for four generations. When on the East Coast, we often bring them home to other appreciative family members.
Generations of Fish Mongering
Crab Cake Tips from Nancy Faidley Devine
At the fish market, Nancy makes three different crab cakes. One is from claw meat, dark and sweet. Another is made from the compact meat in the body of the crab called the back fin. The third, the jumbo lump, is the filet mignon of the crab with only two lumps per crab. That means it takes about 24 crabs to make a pound of meat.
Keep It Lumpy
Being careful not to break up the lumps, Nancy lays the meat out on a cooking sheet and sprinkles it lightly with Old Bay Seasoning and adds broken Saltine crackers in small pieces, not crushed. When the crackers cook up they take on the texture of butter, making for a lighter cake than you get with bread crumbs.
Next, Nancy adds the sauce made from a variety of mustards and a special mayonnaise. Handling the mixture ever so gently, she forms each glob into a loose sphere. She prefers the baseball shape to the hockey puck shape, because an orb browns more evenly when fried. Cakes can be broiled, but they don’t turn out as crispy and evenly browned on the outside.
What’s So Special?
What makes me rave about the glories of Faidley Seafood? Certainly, there’s nothing special about the surroundings—it’s a fish market, for heaven’s sake—and there are no seats, just stand up counters.
Even so, accolades abound. Gourmet magazine wrote: “The most delicious dish in all of Baltimore, maybe the most beautiful hunk of seafood anywhere on the East Coast between Maine and Charleston Harbor—it’s a Faidley’s crab cake.”
Since being commissioned to develop crab cakes for the crew of the space shuttle, Faidley’s can truly say that their seafood is “out of this world.”
A Recipe Close to the Real Thing
Many years ago, I was flipping through a Woman’s Day magazine while waiting in a checkout line and came upon a recipe for Faidley’s Crab Cakes. I have since made it many times and it comes pretty close to what you get at the Baltimore fish market. If you can’t get to Lexington Market, give this recipe a try. If you want to see Nancy Faidley Devine make her world-famous crab cakes, watch the video here.