Sunday, August 23, 2015

Canned Crab Compared: Spoiler - Disappointing

We happened to have four different cans of crab meat in the pantry, so we decided to make crab cakes for lunch. The amazing differences we saw when we opened the cans inspired this blog entry.

It's hard to imagine this is all the same food. The first two cans are from Bumble Bee, labeled "fancy lump" and "pink." Neither one seems to fit its label. The third can is Geisha snow crab meat. It looks markedly better than the others. Hold that thought. The final can is Roland white crab meat. It looks like the crab equivalent of sawdust.

Appearance is important, but for crab cakes, flavor and texture are much more important. We didn't taste them individually, but the resulting crab cakes tasted good, if a bit light on flavor. And, if you've ever had crab cakes in Maryland, you will appreciate big lumps of crab. Our recipe says to use fresh Maryland lump crab meat, but canned crab will do in a pinch. Which is certainly true.

We thought we had a clear winner in the Geisha can. But, look at what we pulled out of the can:

Apparently, Geisha puts a few choice chunks on the top of the can. It looks nice when you open it, but the bulk of the can is no different than the other cans. At least there are a few good lumps there. Perhaps that allows them to put the deceiving picture on the front of the can. That said, the Geisha is the star of the bunch with the best color and texture, and at least a few nice lumps.

I wish I could end this article with a summary of poorly textured crab meat. There is one more problem with these cans. Each can was labeled as net 6 oz. and "dr wt" 4.25 oz. "Dr wt" stands for drained weight. The problem is that drained weight is not measured, the way normal humans drain a can of crab meat. Normal humans force the liquid out of the meat by pressing the can lid down into the can until the liquid stops coming out. The official drained weight measure is done by pouring the can into a sieve: no pressing. As a result, these four cans had 2.9, 3.3, 3.5 and 4.0 oz. of squeeze drained crab meat.

Our crab cake recipe calls for 1 lb. of crab. We found that our four cans had 13.7 of the supposed 17.0 oz. on the label. We tolerated that and enjoyed our crab cakes.

Crab Cakes
Makes 6 cakes

1 lb. Crab meat
1 t. Salt
3/4 t. Fresh ground pepper

1/2 c. Mayonnaise
1/2 t. Yellow mustard
1 t. Worcestershire
1 t. Lemon juice
1 Egg

2 oz. Saltine crackers, finely crushed
1/2 t. Baking powder
2 T Parsley minced

Oil for frying
  1. Heat oil to 375. Use a thermometer, since too cold makes for greasy cakes, and too hot will burn them
  2. Mix crab with salt and pepper
  3. Mix mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire and egg
  4. Fold into crab mixture
  5. Add 1/4 of crushed saltines, baking powder, and parsley to the mix
  6. Put remaining saltines on a plate
  7. Form 6 crab cakes, coat lightly with crushed saltines
  8. Fry in oil for 1-3 minutes per side
  9. Drain on paper towel
  10. Serve hot