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A crab cake is a variety of fishcake which is popular in the United States composed of crab meat and various other ingredients, such as bread crumbs, milk, mayonnaise, eggs, and seasonings, particularly Old Bay seasoning. Occasionally other ingredients such as red or green peppers or sliced pimientos are added (and rarely, yellow onions). The cake is then sautéed, baked, grilled or, the most popular choice, broiled, and then served. Crab cakes are traditionally associated with the area surrounding the Chesapeake Bay, in particular the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore.
The two most common styles of Maryland crab cakes are Boardwalk and Restaurant. Boardwalk crab cakes are typically breaded and deep-fried, and often filled with stuffing (of various sorts) and served on a hamburger bun or, most popularly, with saltine crackers. Restaurant crab cakes (aka gourmet crab cakes) are often prepared with no filler, consisting of all-lump (backfin) crab meat served on a platter or open-faced sandwich. The choices of sides are usually french fries, cole slaw, potato or macaroni salad. Baltimore restaurants serve crab cakes with a lemon wedge and saltine crackers; other restaurants serve condiments such as a remoulade, tartar sauce, mustard, cocktail sauce or ketchup. Baltimoreans usually forgo these condiments and eat plain or with a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Many restaurants give their patrons the choice of having their crab cake fried or broiled. Crab cakes vary in size, from no bigger than a small cookie to as large as a hamburger. Baltimoreans jokingly refer to large crab cakes as "Dolly Partons".
Crab cakes are popular along the coast of the Mid-Atlantic States, New England, the Gulf Coast, the Pacific Northwest, and the Northern California coast, where the crabbing industry thrives. Meat from any species of crab may be used, although the meat of the blue crab, whose native habitat includes the Chesapeake Bay is traditional. The Blue Crab is generally considered to be the best tasting, however. In the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, the endemic Dungeness Crab is a popular ingredient for crab cakes, and the cakes are prepared at many well-established restaurants throughout the region.
Maryland Crab Cakes are the national food of The Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, a horse race that is run on the third Saturday of May each year. The flavor of Maryland Crab Cakes is distinctive because, unlike Southern State residents who boil their crabs, Marylanders steam theirs, thus retaining most of the delicious crab flavor.
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