Summer has officially arrived in my house. After the first crab meat is consumed, the summer season begins for us. For Marylanders, Summer = crab.
A favorite of Sam’s family is the crab ball. I really love making these little guys. They are essentially a crab cake, just a little smaller. Perfect for parties and also for popping in your mouth. They’re always present at family gatherings as a precursor to the rest of the seafood feast.
To make a great crab ball you must get the crab/filler ratio correct… Marylanders like their crabcakes and balls “jumbo lump” which denotes large pieces of crab with very little binder. Add as little filler as you can while still being able to bind your crab into a ball. The main flavor should be crab and having to pick through your ball searching for the crab will not fly. I’d be shunned if I served a filler-heavy crab ball to Sam’s family.
Luckily, I’ve been schooled in the world of crab cakes extensively by my relatives and these balls are full of crab meat. A great trick for keeping the amount of binder low is not adding all of your breadcrumbs at once. By adding a little at a time I’m able to feel when the mixture is ready to form into balls. I never end up using all of my breadcrumbs, but have come close. Every batch is different so adding as you go is the only way to make this recipe.
My favorite part is when a crab chunk will separate slightly and I can tear it off and eat it, unnoticed. The crunchy outside bits give way to a creamy, crabby center. They are an awesome appetizer. I like plating them with a saltine underneath, another classic Maryland combination… The salty cracker compliments the delicate crab and gives a more finished look.
A perfect accent is to dust the crab balls with a little Old Bay. It looks nice sprinkled around the plate, plus crab and Old Bay are the peanut butter and jelly of the seafood world. It’s kind of impossible to have one without the other.