Send in recipes for the October 2 16th Coast Day Crab Cake Cook-off


Entries for the 16th Coast Day Crab Cake Cook-Off are due on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2005. Eight finalists will be selected from these entries to compete for cash prizes ($150 for first place, $100 for second place and $75 for third place), a plaque and recognition in the cook-off on Coast Day, Sunday, Oct. 2, at the University of Delaware’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes.

Coast Day is held every year on the first Sunday in October. Sponsored by the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program and Graduate College of Marine Studies, it is an annual educational festival and showcase for Delaware’s rich marine resources. The event typically attracts more than 10,000 visitors and has won state and national awards for its efforts to promote environmental education and stewardship.

The Crab Cake Cook-Off first became part of Coast Day in 1990. Since that time, close to 250 recipes have been submitted by professional and amateur cooks from across the country. They have used all manner of names and ingredients in their quest to concoct the recipe that will win the coveted title of “Delaware’s Best Crab Cakes.”

“If you have ever wanted to try to enter a recipe for a cooking contest, the Crab Cake Cook-Off is a great one to begin with,” says Doris Hicks, seafood technology specialist for the Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service and organizer of the cook-off.

“It is not unusual for a first-time entrant to make the final eight,” Hicks adds. “If they don’t place the first year, they learn enough about preparing crab cakes at Coast Day, that they can’t wait to try again the next year.”

Last year, Erica Culbert, a resident of Philadelphia, won first place with her “Classic Crab Cakes with Dill Pickle Tartar Sauce.” She used only a few additional ingredients to enhance the crab’s natural flavor in her winning recipe. She served her crab cakes with a distinctive tartar sauce made from finely diced dill pickles and Dijon mustard, This year, Culbert has been invited to be a judge for the 2005 competition — a time-honored tradition in which each year’s first-place winner is given an opportunity to judge the following year’s crab cake cook-off.

In 1999, the 10-year anniversary of the Crab Cake Cook-Off prompted Hicks to collect all of the award-winning recipes, which were then published in a commemorative Coast Day Crab Cake Cookbook. The 50-page spiral-bound booklet costs $4. It is available from the Marine Public Education Office in Newark at (302) 831-8083 or the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service in Lewes at (302) 645-4346.

The crab cakes must be made from 100 percent blue-crab meat. Each finalist will receive two pounds of jumbo lump blue-crab meat to use the day of the competition. All other ingredients and cooking utensils are the contestants’ responsibility. Judging will be based on originality, predominance of crab meat, taste and texture.

For a complete set of contest rules and an entry form, or for more information, contact the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service at (302) 645-4346 or Rita Baty at rbaty@cms.udel.edu.