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February 9, 2010

A new twist (gasp) on the dreaded crab cake question



I didn't think anyone could possibly come up with a new crab cake question.

Actually, I thought no one would ever ask me any crab cake question except "Where can you get the best crab cakes in Baltimore?"

But Sherri has done it. She's asked a new restaurant crab cake question.

And it's one I can't answer: ...

I enjoy reading your restaurant reviews and Table Talk column in the Baltimore Sun. My husband has been searching for a restaurant that prepares crab cakes without mayonnaise. Are you aware of any restaurant that prepares a mayo-free crab cake?

The thing is, even if you came up with a mayonnaise-free crab cake, wouldn't it still contain all the ingredients that are in mayonnaise? That is, egg and oil? So what would be the advantage?

But I totally understand irrational likes and dislikes -- I have a few myself -- so maybe Sherri's husband just can't bear the thought of mayonnaise for some reason. It's not really a taste thing or an allergy. It's the gack factor.

In that case, maybe it would help him to find some restaurants that are making their crab cakes without mayonnaise.

I have no idea, but just off the top of my head, I would think restaurant kitchens would be going the other way. With the heightened worries over uncooked eggs (consider what's happened to the original Caesar salad dressing), it would make more sense to eliminate the raw egg in your crab cake recipe and up the amount of mayonnaise.

Then if the cake isn't cooked thoroughly all the way through, you don't have to worry.

Again, all this is guesswork on my part, so if anyone can answer Sherri's question with, you know, actual facts, please post below.

(Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun photographer)
Posted by Elizabeth Large at 6:24 AM | | Comments (22)


I can't answer where to get a mayonnaise free crab cake but I can offer a made at home solution.Having worked as a chef for many years, I have on occasion come across this request of no mayo before. It is possible to make a great crab cake using a seafood mousse. Choose your seafood,be it mild white fish or my favorite, shrimp. Place raw product into food processor, add heavy add an egg and process. while running, pour a stream of heavy cream in until mixture resembles mousse. fold other items of preference-some like celery,peppers, or onion-and seasonings of choice (dry mustard, pepper, Old Bay) into mix and fold in crab meat., shape and bake at 350 until browned and beautiful. I guess these could be sauteed as well although I never have.
captcha longshoremen cilantro- a new kind of sea weed?

For homemade crabcakes, you can also use a little sour cream as a binder. I've done this and it works just fine. (I suspect--but do NOT know for sure, so don't quote me!--that Koko's on Harford Road in Lauraville may use sour cream in their crabcakes.

I live in Linthicum (G&M, Olive Grove) so I don't usually deal with making my own. But, I have seen on more than one cooking show where mayo is substituted by a combo of sour cream and unsweetened yogurt. If you don't want the sour cream to overpower the crabmeat this might be the way to go.

This is a wild, wild guess, but I'm going out on a limb and supposing the depth and turnover of Gertrude's build-your-own crabcake menu might mean they can accommodate a special request?

On that note of turnover - maybe you've got a shot at somewhere that specializes in crab, but still has high-enough turnover to accommodate a special request, like Obrycki's.

Gertrude's at the BMA has several crabcakes, including one made with Eastern Shore crabmeat that only has butter and lemon juice as the binder.

MDtopdad: thanks for the tip; the shrimp puree sounds delicious.

Baltofoodie: I hear you. When they make the real McCoy from the Eastern Shore, they holler at the crabmeat until it sticks together.

One recipe for crabcakes I use has as ingredients: crabmeat, 1 beaten raw egg, then salt & pepper to taste.

Is it egg as an ingredient Sheri's old man has an aversion to, or is it mayo-as-a-binder-on-principle?

modules prepare (my International Space Station chef name)

I can't stand Mayo, and never use it in my Crabcakes....A small amount of Grey Poupon works

Good luck on finding a restaurant that doesn't use eggs or mayo in their crab cakes. I'm allergic to eggs and have never ate crab cakes in a restaurant. I created my own recipe, and they taste great to me! Oh...if someone knows of such a restaurant, please pass it along!

Try the Crabcake Factory in Ocean City. I'm not sure, but it looked like all meat to me! We couldn't figure out what kind of binding they'd used. Excellent, by the way.

Obrycki's crab cake has no mayo in it, and not just as a special request. If it is broiled, it is topped with mayo first, to keep it from drying out.

Crabcake Factory in Ocean City while awesome does use some mayo in the mix. Just enough to hold it together.\

The do however have a Crab-Tini which is nothing but Jumbo Lump Crabmeat drizzled with Sundried tomato vinegrette and topped with mango salsa which is to die for. No one compares to Crabcake Factory in OC. Hope it doesnt snow Prez Weekend!!

I also should have pointed out that the crabcakes made with seafood mouse
( I really like them with Shrimp mousse) are gluten free, no cracker or bread binder. After I posted this tidbit, I actually made some at home and they were scrumptious!!
Appropriate captcha
done consumed !

No one compares to Crabcake Factory in OC???I don't think so. Nothing like self promotion Hey Johnny Crabcakes Brooks-the owner.

Yeah yeah we get it. Somebody who works for Crabcake Factory reads the blog. Enough already.

I also should have pointed out that the crabcakes made with seafood mouse

Holy crap, how did we miss this before? What is seafood mouse?

hi, can anyone offer a comparable recipe to Koco's crab cake? I have tried for years to mimic this recipe with no luck. I do believe I have figured out the "bread chunks" part of the recipe, which I think is very important. however, i just cant seem to make this 100% like Koco's. thanks in advance!

Try this one
1 lb crabmeat of choice
3 slices good quality white bread frozen,
crusts removed, and cut into small cubes
2 well beaten eggs
1/2 cup heavy mayo,
1 tsp worcestershire or to taste
Old Bay to taste
1 tbs. dry mustard
Freeze bread and cut into cubes,toss with crabmeat,
'mix other ingredients together to form wet base, add to crab mix, allow to chill and shape into cakes, Bake or saute until golden browm

Thanks so much!! I will give it a shot this week and let you know how it turns out! (P.S. I have come up with a pretty good recipe - not like Koco's, but a good Maryland recipe that I will share later on when I write the ingredients down. Only issue is, it dries out a bit when broiling - so I might tweak the recipe before I post it.)


Any other recipes that might be comparable to Koco's are encouraged!! PLEASE!! :) Still havent tried the above, but I will try this week!


The last time I was at Koco's, I asked them how they cooked their crabcakes. They don't broil them, but bake them in the oven at a very high temperature, like 400 degrees or so. I believe the waiter said they have a special kind of oven for that, since he said it would be hard to do at home. Maybe he said that just so we keep coming in instead of trying it at home.
Still, I like going there and will continue to go there whenever I'm in town.

I coulda swore there were little pieces of hushpuppies in Koco's cakes. As in, fried drops of batter. Tiny, tiny drops.

Even if I'm wrong, I may try this idea next time I make some.

Hush puppies....hmmm. That just may be it. I tried the bread in milk and it did not taste like Koco's, BUT it was delicious!!

I also had a problem with the jumbo lump breaking up when I mixed the ingredients.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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