Eastern Shore Crab Roll 4.000

James M. Thresher for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Jul 29, 2009

For this week's issue, Food section staffers had to muscle their way through many kinds of restaurant crab cakes. Offering a good, quick crab cake recipe for this column seemed like the timely thing to do. But honestly, I couldn't bring myself to eat one (or three) more of those fried or broiled mounds.

I may like this no-cook recipe just as much. It's from Coastal Sunbelt Produce Co. chef Martin Saylor, who has worked at the Hay-Adams Hotel and at the now-closed Butterfield 9 downtown. It's a version of a recipe that was featured at the Buy Local Cookout held this month by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Because Saylor knew he'd be serving in hot weather at the event, he adapted the recipe by replacing much of the mayonnaise with cream cheese, which brightened the flavor and gave the crab filling added body. He spread the filling on thin homemade focaccia, but you can use store-bought lavash or nan or even tortilla wraps.

Serve with slices of melon or a dressed salad of watermelon cubes with feta and red onion.

Make Ahead: You'll have some sauce left over; use it as a salad dressing or on top of seafood tacos. It can be refrigerated for 3 days.

Servings: 4
  • For the crab roll
  • 1 pound jumbo-lump crabmeat
  • 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, preferably Philadelphia brand (do not use nonfat)
  • 1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise (do not use nonfat)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 medium lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 11-by-17-inch piece (about 14 ounces total) thin focaccia (may substitute 1 similarly sized piece of lavash or pita bread; if using, cut the assembled crab roll crosswise into 1 1/2-inch slices)
  • For the sauce
  • 1 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 to 2 limes


For the crab roll: Pick over the crabmeat to remove any pieces of cartilage or shell.

Place the cream cheese in a microwave-safe container and microwave on DEFROST for 1 minute or until softened (but not hot).

Transfer the cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer, then add the mayonnaise and mustard. Squeeze the lemon to yield 2 tablespoons of juice; add to the bowl, along with the Old Bay seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. Beat with a whisk attachment on medium-high speed until smooth and well incorporated. Stop and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Use a flexible spatula to gently fold in the crabmeat until well blended.

Lay the bread on a large cutting board; if necessary, cut it horizontally in half to a thickness of 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Spread the crab mixture evenly over it, leaving a 1/2-inch margin around the edges. Starting at one of the short sides, tuck the edge under and roll tightly to form a roulade. Trim/even the ends, then cut the crab roll into 4 equal portions. Divide among individual plates.

For the sauce: Combine the mayonnaise, ketchup and Old Bay seasoning to taste in a medium bowl. Squeeze in the juice of 1 or 2 limes to yield 2 tablespoons. Mix well, then transfer to a squeeze bottle, if desired. Drizzle the sauce over each portion of crab roll. Serve immediately.

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Recipe Source

From Martin Saylor, corporate chef for Coastal Sunbelt Produce Co. in Savage.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Email questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.