Raymond and Evan prepare the winning cakes.
Photo by Evan Krape.
Making the leap from third place in 2008, Raymond Williams of Bear, Del., took top prize in the 2009 Coast Day Crab Cake Cook-Off. The contest took place at the University of Delaware’s Coast Day, held Sunday, Oct. 4, at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes.
Williams’ entry, “Pan-Grilled Crab Cakes with Roasted Shallots,” not only earned high enough marks for first place, one judge even asked for seconds.
“The shallot vinaigrette — it was awesome,” said judge Carl Zampini, 2008 Crab Cake Cook-Off winner. “It all came together perfectly.”
Williams squared off against seven other finalists in the 20th edition of the contest. The finalists set up their favorite appliances under a tent to prepare their recipes in front of the judges and interested onlookers looking to help taste-test any leftovers.
Williams said he enjoys entering cooking contests with his 14-year-old son, Evan, who loves to cook and was on hand to help prepare the cakes. He also said he likes seeing what other contestants bring to the competition.
“I enjoy it for the camaraderie with the other chefs and people who enjoy cooking,” he said.
He received a $200 cash prize and a new griddle for his win. Second place and a $150 prize went to Steven Ruiz of Wilmington, Del. His recipe “Steve’s Crispy Blue Crab Cakes With Papaya Avocado Salad and Kaffir Lime” was a strong contender according to the judges, who said the avocado paired very well with the cakes.
Winning third place and $100 was John Joseph Yanek of North Catasauqua, Pa. Yanek’s “Cheesy Crab Cakes” featured Parmesan, cheddar, and cream cheese.
Other finalists in the competition included Susan Lipp, of Wilmington, Del.; Dawn Fridas, of Frederica, Del.; Krista Scudlark, of Milton, Del.; Spencer Hunt, of Monkton, Md.; and Darla Koff, also of Frederica.
Judging the friendly competition along with Zampini, an executive chef with UD’s Dining Services, were Roy Miller, retired director of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Fish and Wildlife division, and Denise Clemons, the “Cape Flavors” columnist for the Cape Gazette.
Each finalist received a copy of the commemorative Coast Day Crab Cake Cookbook, which contains all the finalists’ recipes from the first 17 years of the contest. Copies are available by calling 302-831-8083. The cookbook costs $6.
Coast Day, which is organized by UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) and the Delaware Sea Grant College Program, attracts thousands of visitors each year to celebrate Delaware’s coastal resources and experience marine research.
For more information about Coast Day, visit www.decoastday.org or call 302-831-8083.
To learn more about the Delaware Sea Grant College Program, visit www.deseagrant.org.
For more about CEOE, visit www.ceoe.udel.edu.
2009 Coast Day Crab Cake Cook-Off Winning Recipes
Pan Grilled Crab Cakes With Roasted Shallots
Raymond Williams, Bear, Del.
2 pounds crab meat
2 eggs beaten
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoon red hot sauce
4 tablespoon fresh lemon juice plus zest of 1 lemon
1 cup panko (or fresh bread crumbs if preferred)
1-1/2 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
1 tablespoon honey mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Grape seed oil for sautéing
Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced roasted shallot
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1-1/2 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper
10 shallots, broken into unpeeled cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
Crab Cakes and Vinaigrette
1. Mix all ingredients except for mayo and bread crumbs in bowl. Make sure crab is coated with seasonings.
2. Fold mayo and bread crumbs into mixture gently.
3. Form into crab cakes and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until firm.
4. Heat grape seed oil over medium heat. Add crab cakes, taking care not to crowd them in the pan. Make in batches or use more than one skillet if needed.
5. Sauté crab cakes 4-5 minutes a side. Serve immediately or, if cooking in batches, keep in warm oven (150 or 200° F) until ready to serve.
6. To make vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients together. Will keep in refrigerator for a week so it’s easy to make ahead.
7. Toss vinaigrette with mixed baby greens and serve crab cakes over top. Drizzle extra vinaigrette over crab cakes topped with roasted shallots.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the shallots in small bowl, cover with oil, and add salt and pepper. Stir to coat shallots evenly with oil and seasoning. Spread shallots on a small baking pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the shallots are soft in the center. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Steve’s Crispy Blue Crab Cakes With Papaya Avocado Salad and Kaffir Lime
Steven M. Ruiz, Wilmington, Del.
2 pounds jumbo lump crab meat
1-1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 cup olive oil
3 each papaya (fresh)
2 each avocado
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 red pepper
1/2 red onion
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup honey
In a bowl, place mayonnaise, eggs, Old Bay, dry mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and Sriracha hot sauce. Mix well. In a separate bowl, take 2 pounds of crab meat, slowly add wet mix and 1/2 of the panko bread crumbs. Fold together lightly then pat out 4-ounce cakes with that mix. Then, with the remainder of panko, lightly bread the outside of each cake. Sauté in olive oil until crispy and golden brown.
For salad: Peel and dice 3 papaya and 2 avocado, finely dice 1 red pepper, 1/2 red onion, chop 4 lime leaves very fine. Add all items in a bowl, toss with the rice vinegar, honey, 1/2 cup oil and chopped cilantro. Add avocado last to avoid crushing. Place in refrigerator and chill.
Cheesy Crab Cakes
John Joseph Yanek, North Catasauqua, Pa.
2 pounds jumbo lump blue crab meat
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon Sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup corn flakes, crushed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon cayenne red pepper
2 teaspoon crushed basil
2 teaspoon crushed garlic
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/3 cup softened cream cheese
7 tablespoons butter
Mix above ingredients together except crab meat and butter. Fold in crab meat until blended. Form into 2-3 inch, round crab cakes. Sauté butter until golden brown. Place crab cakes in butter and broil until golden brown on both sides. Serve hot. Servings: 8-10.