This isn’t the first time these crab cakes have been in competition: Bobbye C. Wilson in 2007 entered them in a contest sponsored by Piggly Wiggly and judged by food writers Matt and Ted Lee.
“I was totally surprised when it was in the finals,” she says.
Wilson developed the recipe after she and her husband moved from Charlotte to Hollywood, where Stono River crabs are plentiful. Since Wilson’s husband kept catching and cleaning them, Wilson decided to devise a way to serve them. She can’t recall why she settled on so much lemon juice in the mix but says “it worked for us.”
“The only hint I have for making the crab cakes is the less handling the better,” she adds.
At the Wilson house, these crab cakes are served with Geechie Boy grits and butterbeans.
Mam’s Best Crab Cakes
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pound crab meat, drained
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten slightly
¾ cup panko crumbs, plus more for dredging
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
¼ cup olive oil
Pour lemon juice over cleaned crab and set aside.
Melt butter over low heat. Add peppers and onions; sauté until soft, 4-5 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together egg, panko crumbs, mayonnaise, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, Old Bay and sautéed vegetables. Gently fold crab meat unto mixture, trying not to break up the crab meat.
Shape crab mixture into 3-inch cakes, using about ½ cup of the mixture per cake. Gently roll cakes in extra panko crumbs. Place cakes on cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, up to four hours.
In a black iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add four cakes to skillet at a time and fry until cooked.
Put cakes on paper towel-lined plate to drain. Cook remaining cakes. Serve with tartar sauce, if desired.
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sweet pickle, chopped
3 tablespoons onion, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers, minced
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Chill before serving.
Editor’s note: Bobbye C. Wilson’s crab cake recipe is one of four competing in The Post and Courier Food section’s contest for a category crown. Over the course of a year, the newspaper will publish four reader-supplied recipes for each of 12 iconic Lowcountry dishes. Featured recipes have been lightly edited to conform with the newspaper’s style, but they have not been tested. It’s up to readers to choose a winner. To weigh in on the crab cake race, join us at bit.ly/PCfoodFBgroup.