The Coast Day Crab Cake Cook-Off, sponsored by the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program and Graduate College of Marine Studies, is calling for entries for this year's contest. Past entries have ranged from the exotic French Confetti Crab Cakes to the homegrown Red, White, and Blue Crab Cakes. 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 win the coveted title of "Delaware's Best Crab Cakes."
Last year, Nikki Achtermann of Rehoboth Beach, Del., won the top prize with her "Wild and Spicy Crabburgers." As first-place prizewinner in the 1998 Coast Day Crab Cake Cook-Off, Achtermann has been invited back to be one of the judges at this year's 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 3, at the University's Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes.
Coast Day is the University of Delaware 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.
"The crab cake cook-off highlights one of Delmarva's most valuable seafood resources - the blue crab," says Doris Hicks, seafood technology specialist for the University's Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service and the event's organizer. "From the entries, we'll select eight recipes based on originality and an appealing balance of blue-crab meat and other ingredients. The finalists will then participate in the cook-off at Coast Day.
"Over the years, we've seen many creative concoctions and cherished family recipes," continues Hicks. "Predictable ingredients have included cracker or bread crumbs, mayonnaise, and crab seasoning. In addition, we've seen some really interesting variations that have included liquid smoke, portabello mushrooms, mango, or bean sprouts. The crab cakes have been broiled, baked, and fried. One contestant even used an egg-shaped ceramic smoker to prepare his entry."
To commemorate the tenth annual cook-off, Hicks has collected all of the finalist recipes from the past to be published in a recipe booklet. The booklet, which also will include recipes from this year's contest finalists, will be available for purchase at Coast Day.
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.
Entries are due Friday, August 6. For a complete set of contest rules and an entry form, or for more information, contact the University of Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service at (302) 645-4346,or Rita Baty at email@example.com.
Last year's winning recipe follows.
WILD AND SPICY CRABBURGERS
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onions
11-12 tablespoons butter, unsalted
2 lbs crab meat
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Drops of Tabasco sauce (to taste)
Dashes of cayenne pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons parsley
6 slices Swiss cheese, cut in half
Cook onion and celery in 7 tablespoons of butter until tender and transfer to bowl. Stir in crab meat and bread crumbs. In small bowl, whisk mayonnaise, Old Bay, sauces, garlic, cayenne, and parsley. Add salt and pepper and extra Old Bay to taste. Stir into crab mixture until combined well. Add additional bread crumbs, one tablespoon at a time, if the crab mixture needs thickening. (It should take no more than 3 tablespoons.) Form into patties and chill 1 to 4 hours. In heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat until foam subsides and cook three crabburgers (on each side) until golden brown or desired color. Before removing from heat, melt thin slice of Swiss cheese on topside. Repeat with remaining crabburgers. Serve warm with lemon and favorite side dishes.