Coast Day and crab cakes — what a great combination! The Crab Cake Cook-Off, sponsored by the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program and Graduate College of Marine Studies, is always a popular activity at UD’s Coast Day festival. Although the contest is still a few months away, now is the time to start testing your recipe.
Since the contest was established in 1990, recipes with all manner of names and ingredients have been submitted by professional and amateur cooks from the Delmarva area who hope to have the recipe that will win the coveted title of “Delaware’s Best Crab Cakes.”
Last year, Georges “Geo” Johnson of Frankford, Delaware, won first place with his “Crab-Cake-Abella.” Johnson’s crab cakes were named for his unique presentation — each crab cake was placed in the cap of a roasted portabella mushroom on a small bed of spinach and topped with a special sauce, which included lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, dry mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.
This year, Johnson will not be competing in the cook-off, but instead has been invited to be one of the judges at the competition. Eight finalists will compete for cash prizes ($150 for first place, $100 for second place, and $75 for third place) and recognition in the cook-off on Coast Day, Sunday, October 6, at UD’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes.
Coast Day is the UD Sea Grant College Program and Graduate College of Marine Studies’ annual educational festival and showcase for Delaware’s rich marine resources. The event typically attracts more than 10,000 visitors and has won state and national awards for its efforts to promote environmental education and stewardship.
“Crab cakes are a favorite treat of seafood lovers in Delaware and throughout the United States,” says Doris Hicks, seafood technology specialist for the UD’s Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service and the event’s organizer. “Here at the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service, we are getting ready for our 13th annual Crab Cake Cook-Off at Coast Day. We expect many professionals and non-professionals to send us their favorite or latest recipe.”
The crab cakes must be made from 100% blue-crab meat; all other types of crab meat are unacceptable. Each contestant will receive two pounds of blue-crab meat to use the day of the competition. All other ingredients and cooking utensils are the contestants’ responsibility. Judging will be based on originality, predominance of crab meat, taste, and texture.
The 10-year anniversary of the Crab Cake Cook-Off in 1999 prompted Hicks to collect all of the award-winning recipes, which were then published in a commemorative Coast Day Crab Cake Cookbook. The 50-page spiral-bound booklet is available from the Marine Public Education Office in Newark at (302) 831-8083 or the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service in Lewes at (302) 645-4346. The cookbook costs $3.00.
Entries are due Friday, August 16. For a complete set of contest rules and an entry form, or for more information, contact the UD Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service at (302) 645-4346, or Rita Baty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coast Day 2001 Crab Cake Cook-Off Winning Recipe
by Georges “Geo” Johnson, Frankford, Delaware
2 pounds lump crab meat
4 tablespoons mayonnaise (low fat, if wanted)
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/3 cup fine cracker crumbs
3 cups mayonnaise (low fat, if wanted)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
8 portabella mushroom caps, 5 to 6 inches across
1 pound cleaned spinach (if frozen, drain well)
To make crab cakes: In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, mustard, and Old Bay seasoning. Add crab meat and cracker crumbs. Toss with hands until evenly combined. Form into eight patties (approximately 4 ounces each).
To make sauce: In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth.
NOTE: Both of these preparations may be done ahead. Just remember to keep chilled.
To cook: Preheat oven or broiler to 450°F. Place portabella caps, dark side up, on greased cookie sheet and roast for four minutes. Remove from oven. Place 2 ounces of spinach inside each cap.
Place a crab cake on top of each, forming around each cap. Roast again for eight minutes or until crab is golden brown. Top each with 2 tablespoons of sauce and cook for two more minutes.
2002 Coast Day Crab Cake Cook-Off
Official Rules and Entry Form
1) One entry per person. Each recipe must be an original creation of the contestant.
2) Two pounds of blue-crab meat will be provided to each contestant by the cook-off sponsors. All other ingredients must be provided by the contestants.
3) All cooking appliances and utensils used in the cook-off must be provided by the contestants. A 110-volt electricity source and back-up equipment will be available at the cook-off.
4) Judging will be based on taste, originality, balance of crab meat, and texture.
5) Eight finalists will be selected from all entries by a panel of seafood experts. These finalists will be eligible to compete at the final competition at Coast Day, Sunday, October 6, 2002, in Lewes, Delaware. If one or more finalists are unable to attend the finals, the cooks with the next highest scores will be invited to participate.
6) All recipes entered become the property of the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program and Graduate College of Marine Studies. Recipes may be duplicated for the Coast Day audience and used in Coast Day publicity.
7) The deadline for entries is Friday, August 16, 2002.
8) Contestants must register for the cook-off via the official entry form or a photocopy, or include all the requested information on a separate piece of paper and mail to the address below. All finalists will receive confirmation of their entry, directions to the site, and additional instructions for the cook-off by mail.
Mail entry forms to:
Crab Cake Cook-Off
University of Delaware
Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service
700 Pilottown Road
Lewes, DE 19958–1298
Title of Crab Cake Recipe:
List of Ingredients:*
* Recipe must be based on two pounds of crab meat and include amounts of each ingredient.