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08/19/2018

~ Mel's Secret Sauce for Maryland-Style Crab Cakes ~

IMG_1794If you've ever traveled to the areas in and around the Chesapeake Bay (Annapolis and/or Baltimore, Maryland, or, the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area in general), even if you are not a foodie, you can't help but notice that from white-linen restaurants to roadside stands, crab cakes and crab cake sandwiches are everywhere -- more specifically, Maryland blue crab cakes and blue crab sandwiches.  There's more.  If you ask any of the locals where to find the best crab cake or crab cake sandwich, you'll find they are fiercely loyal to their favorite place (and be prepared to listen, because they are going to tell you why), and, you'll rarely get the same answer twice.  For those who live in Maryland, eating Chesapeake blue crab is practically a religion.

I've eaten many crab cakes and crab cake sandwiches in Maryland. I've never encountered one I didn't like.  While all are a bit different, it was their similarities that struck me:  lots and LOTS of sweet, jumbo lump crabmeat with little filler (crushed saltine crackers, not breadcrumbs), a bit of mayo, dry mustard, Worcestershire and Frank's RedHot pepper sauce, and, an egg or two to bind it all together. All contain parsley, none contain celery, onion or bell pepper -- zero.  Most are pan-fried, some are broiled, and they're served on everything from sliced white bread to brioche to chiabatta, with lettuce, tomato and any one of several mayonnaise-based sauces.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c868a637970bSauces for seafood and shellfish in my repertoire include classic cocktail sauce, tangy tarter sauce and Cajun-Creole remoulade sauce.  I love them all, and, while they can't always be used interchangeably, they are appropriate for many appetizer, snack, and sandwich recipes containing crustaceans (crabmeat, shrimp, prawns and lobster) -- lesser so for the mollusks (clams, mussels, oysters and scallops).

IMG_1696All that said, one morning, while combining the wet ingredients for my Maryland blue-crab cakes, it occurred to me that without the raw egg and bit more mayo added to it, the sauces and spices used in combination with mayo would be the perfect (meaning:  100% perfect) complementary condiment and/or sandwich topper for my crab cakes and crab cake sandwiches.  After a short period of experimentation and tweaking, this concoction is now affectionately referred to as:

Mel's Secret Sauce for Seafood & Seafood Sandwiches.

IMG_17582  teaspoons Frank's RedHot cayenne pepper sauce, to taste

2  teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2  teaspoons Colman's dry English mustard

2  teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

1  teaspoon sugar

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

1  tablespoon dried parsley flakes

1 cup high-quality mayonnaise, your favorite brand

Note:  Please do not be inclined to add lemon juice to my sauce -- it muddles the flavors. Squeeze a fresh lemon wedge over the finished-dish at the very end to make the flavor "pop".

IMG_1760 IMG_1760 IMG_1760 IMG_1760 IMG_1760~Step 1.  In a small bowl, whisk together the RedHot, Worcestershire, Colman's, Old Bay, sugar and salt.  Add and whisk in parsley flakes and mayonnaise.  Transfer to a food storage container, cover and refrigerate until chilled and thickened, 2 hours or overnight.  Served chilled: for dipping, drizzling or slathering, or use as directed in specific recipe.

"The secret's always in the sauce."

IMG_1806It's perfect on my Crunchy Crabmeat Crostini too:

IMG_1872Mel's Secret Sauce for Maryland-Style Crab Cakes:  1 generous cup sauce.

Special Equipment List:  wire whisk; 1-2-cup food storage container w/tight-fitting lid

6a0120a8551282970b022ad38a0770200dCook's Note:  Cook's Note:  As a gal who loves deli-, tuna- and egg-salad sandwiches, I am never far from my mayo.  During the picnic and tailgate season, when side-dishes like macaroni salad, potato salad, cole slaw and deviled eggs reign supreme, I purchase big jars, in two-packs.  When our garden tomatoes are ripe, I could eat a freshly-picked sliced-tomato sandwich, on white bread, with a big slather of mayonnaise, every day. There's more.  I can't imagine my life without mayo-based tartar and remoulade sauces, or, oh my Thousand Islands salad dressing, and, I'm very proficient at making homemade mayonnaise.  I know my mayo: ~ Spreads go Bread to Bread:  Hellmann's vs Duke's ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)

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