Inspired by Throwdown! with Bobby Flay, the CCR was recently presented with multiple brands of crab cakes on a recent grocery run. Not knowing which to choose from, it was decided to pit them up against each other to see whose crab cakes reign supreme. So the cart was loaded, and we happily returned back to our own version of Kitchen Stadium to let the cakes do battle.
First, lets introduce the contenders:
Trader Joe's Maryland Style Crab Cakes: Known for their high quality and low prices, Trader Joe's serves up their interpretation of a Maryland style crab cake.
Chesapeake Bay Brand Crab Cakes: The same company that sells millions of crab cakes on QVC, has appeared on Oprah's "O" List, and was voted the best mail-order crab cake by the Baltimore Sun in 1993, now brings that Maryland culinary classic to your frozen food aisle.
Phillips Maryland Style Crab Cakes: Synonymous with Baltimore and Maryland seafood, Phillips retail products can be found far and wide for that Maryland taste that visitors can experience in their own neck of the woods.
The challenge is simple: Cook each crab cake according to the manufacturer's preferred method, and judge them by crab content, flavor, quality and overall impression. All three are considered Maryland style, which is typically heavier with the breading, although only one uses lump crab meat.
You can read the individual reviews if you want more detail (click on the brand name), as for now we shall summarize:
Trader Joe's: Really hard to get out of the packaging when defrosted - recommend to take out before defrosting. Cake falls apart very easily, even when cooked. No real structure to it, as it resembles pâté. Crab cake itself is mostly breading with some dry, stringy crab meat pieces inside. Only real flavor you notice is the green onion, which is too overpowering.
Chesapeake Bay Brand: Despite this being a lower end retail offering, these cakes had potential given this is the same company that sells crab cakes on QVC. Fishy smell to the cakes that was offputting. Crab cake was mostly breading with a few strands of dry, stringy crab. Spicing was more in line with a crab cake flavor, but ended up being too salty.
Phillips: Famous seafood brand name that originated in Maryland and is popular with tourists. Phillips has a basic recipe that they stick to in both their restaurant and retail locations. Crab cake is bready, but still retains some saucy moisture. You can at least tell there is crab in there. The spicing is very nice, without being too over the top or salty. Some of the crab lumps were dried out, but that can be expected in frozen foods. Probably as good, if not better, than what we've had in their restaurant.
And the winner is......Phillips! Congrats guys, you rule the frozen crab cake offerings -- for now. Look for more frozen crab cake reviews in the future to see if anyone can do better than 3.5 crabs. You never know when there may be another Throwdown!