The Chesapeake Bay is a vital part of my family. My father grew up on the Bay, in a community called Neeld Estate and the Xander boys sailed on the Bay and ate what they could pull out of it. And they passed the love of the Bay to the next generation. For years my brother Mark and his family have lived on Kent Island, on the Maryland Eastern Shore. Every year in September, Mark's family hosted a huge Xander family crab feast at their house. But this past April, my brother Mark was murdered by his next-door neighbor in the front yard of that house on Kent Island. For the first time in many years, this year there was no Xander crab feast. So my sister and I spent the day around Annapolis, including eating crabcakes at a quiet little restaurant on the water. We talked about Mark, cried, and honored the strong bond of family. It was bittersweet.
So, in honor of my little brother, here's the crabcake recipe that I've been refining for at least 30 years. I hope he would approve.
Maryland Crab Cakes
1 lb. crabmeat (backfin is best) cleaned gently
¾ cup crushed saltines
1 tsp OldBay seasoning
2 eggs beaten
½ cup finely chopped herbs (parsley, with a little green onion or chives)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce + dash Tabasco
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Mix all ingredients except crabmeat. Pour mixture over crabmeat and mix gently with wooden spoon.
Refrigerate for an hour before molding into crabcakes. Fry in pan with oil and butter. (Or spray lightly with olive oil and bake in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes.)
Serve with sauce—mayonnaise, Dijon, lemon juice and capers.