We all have our go-to picks when we go to our favorite restaurants for lunch. But every so often, you want to switch it up. If this sounds like you, why not try our crab cakes next time you’re at Swanton Street Diner for lunch? We may list them as sides on our menu, but one order of our three large crab cakes is enough for a meal!
Crab cakes are pretty common now, but do you know about their history? Let’s find out!
Origins with Early American Settlers
Crab cakes have a rich culinary history that dates back several centuries. While we don’t have documentation of the exact origins of crab cakes, we believe they originated in the Chesapeake Bay region of the United States, particularly in Maryland. The Chesapeake Bay is famous for its abundance of blue crabs, which are the primary ingredient in traditional crab cakes.
The culinary traditions of early English settlers who arrived in the Chesapeake Bay area in the 17th century likely influenced the first crab cakes. These settlers had a tradition of using crabmeat in various dishes, including fritters and patties. Over time, these recipes evolved, and crab cakes as we know them today emerged.
A Simple Recipe
In the early years, crab cakes were a simple food using basic ingredients such as crabmeat, breadcrumbs, and seasonings. The goal was to highlight the delicate flavor of the crabmeat without overpowering it. Pan-frying or sautéeing was the preferred cooking method to achieve a golden-brown crust while keeping the interior moist and flavorful.
The Chesapeake Bay Influence
As crab cakes gained popularity in the region, various adaptations and regional variations emerged. Maryland-style crab cakes, for instance, emphasize high-quality crabmeat, minimal filler ingredients, and the use of Old Bay seasoning—a blend of spices commonly associated with Chesapeake Bay cuisine. Other regions, such as the Gulf Coast, may incorporate local flavors and spices into their crab cake recipes.
Still a Lunch Favorite Today
Over time, crab cakes have become a beloved staple in many seafood-centric regions of the United States. Diners also enjoy them internationally. Seafood restaurants commonly serve them as appetizers or as a main course, and their popularity has spread beyond coastal areas.
Today, seafood enthusiasts worldwide continue to enjoy crab cakes. While traditional recipes remain popular, chefs and home cooks often add their own twists, experimenting with ingredients, seasonings, and cooking techniques to create unique variations on this classic dish.