Shout hallelujah – it’s time for Lowcountry Crab Cakes! Let the trumpets sound as we can once again enjoy the best blue crab from the waters of the South Carolina coast.
It’s hard to imagine the fun we had just this time last year. Now that we find ourselves in isolation, we are left with the memories of better times. But one thing that never changes is the abundance of the sea in our Lowcountry region. Once the waters around Lady’s Island and Beaufort begin to warm, the blue crab become plentiful. If you are fortunate enough to live on the coast or have access to fresh crabmeat, try making crabcakes.
Here’s a 4th generation Gullah lady picking blue crabs in Beaufort, S.C. Ms. Gracie is now in her 80s, and she’s been picking blue crab since she was 12 years old. Just outside Beaufort on St.Helena Island, we have one of the largest populations of Gullah folks anywhere in the nation. These proud descendants of slaves have lived off the land and sea ever since they arrived in our country prior to the Civil War. They are a proud and hard-working people. Charleston artist Sandra Roper captured her last year as she worked. I love that she wears white boots meaning she is a part of the fellowship of whiteboot heroes who labor each day to bring us the bounty of our rivers and the sea.
Painting by Mark Hiles – Zoll Studios
I used to go to Charleston frequently and always made it a point to have lunch at SNOB (Slightly North of the Broad.)
Chef Frank Lee shared his well-loved recipe and I have used it ever since. The art of frying them is another thing altogether. Here’s what I know.
I learned how to fry them from a Gullah lady who has fried crab cake for Susan Mason, the grand caterer of Savannah, for over fifty years. Susan a true Southern lady and I am proud to call her my friend. On this particular night I was attending a party at the Javits Center in Savannah and was able to observe the crab cakes as they were being cooked. Best of all I was able to eat them that evening and they were absolutely amazing!
One thing I learned that is extremely important is to always make the crab cakes and then refrigerate them for several hours before cooking.
You may form the cakes and keep them in the fridge up to a day ahead of time. Although, wait to coat them with the panko until right before frying so they do not get soggy. Once cooked, crab cakes will last up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
Inspired by Chef Frank Lee of SNOB, Charleston, S.C.
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground white pepper
1 pound lump crabmeat
Panko bread crumbs, or fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped parsley
oil for cooking
Combine the beaten egg with the cream and spices in a small mixing bowl. Pour over the picked crab and gently toss. Gently form into 6 crabcakes. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Add panko, or fresh bread crumbs and parsley, and carefully roll the crabcakes in this mixture to cover completely.
Heat a generous amount of oil in a saute pan, at least 1 inch deep, over medium heat. Cook until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for 5 more minutes. Serve warm.
Painting by Mark Hiles