Harbingers of Summer: Crab Corn and Tomato

BY Colleen Thompson

South Lumina Avenue’s George Clark answers the age-old question: what is the secret to killer crab cakes? “More crab meat ” he says simply

Clark has been catching crabs in Wrightsville’s sounds for 80 or more years. His 90-plus years make him something of an expert on the crustacean.

During his childhood on Wrightsville “In those days you could put a chicken neck on a string and put a weight on it and put it out into the water about four feet deep and wait. In a few minutes you could pull in a crab or two.”

In the 1970s Clark started putting crab pots at the end of his pier. “I could easily get 25 crabs overnight in one pot ” he says. “I never took more than I needed but they were there.” He has been putting crab pots out there every year since and he is quick to bemoan the decline in the number of blue crabs. Clark says the summer before last from April 1 to December he caught a total of two blue claw crabs. And none last summer.

Clark’s favorite way to prepare crab: “When I get crabs I pour boiling water over them to kill them. I cut the legs off take the backs off and all the stuff outside of the shell. I break the shell in two. I put a stick of butter in the frying pan add the 1/2 crabs into it and saute them in a lot of garlic salt.” He then spreads newspaper on the table dumps the crabs and breaks them apart.

Blue crabs are harvested from our Atlantic waters from May to August and we’ve come to associate them with summer feasts and ice cold drinks. Their Latin name Callinectes sapidus means “beautiful swimmer” and they are renowned for their unusually blue-green hued shells and distinctive sweet meat. They’re excellent just steamed and seasoned with Old Bay seasoning enjoyed by the whole family on hot summer days. The perfect summer trio: crab corn and tomatoes are an unbeatable combination.

Crab & Corn Fritters

1 Tablespoon butter

1 Small onion finely diced

1 Corn on the cob kernels removed

1 Cup all-purpose flour

1/2 Teaspoon baking powder

1/2 Teaspoon salt

1/2 Teaspoon black pepper

1/2 Teaspoon paprika

1/3 Cup whole milk

1 Egg

1/2 lb. Blue crab meat chopped

In a small skillet on a medium heat melt the butter and add the onion and corn kernels and saute for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour baking powder salt pepper and paprika and mix together. In a small bowl whisk milk and egg together. Pour the milk mixture into the flour and stir to combine. Fold in the crab meat together with the onion and corn. Refrigerate the mixture for an hour.

Heat up canola oil to 375 degrees. Remove the batter from the fridge and in batches using an ice cream scoop scoop batter into the hot oil and fry until golden brown about 3-5 minutes. Serve hot with garlic mayo.

Crab & Corn Quiche with Tomato Jam

1 Ready-made pie shell

1 Tablespoon butter

1 Small onion finely chopped

1/2 Cup red bell

pepper chopped

2 Cups light cream

1 Cup cheddar cheese grated

4 Eggs

1 Teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1 lb. Crab meat

Corn on the cob kernels removed

1 Teaspoon chives chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake pie crust for 5-10 minutes.

In a skillet saute red pepper and onions in butter until tender.

In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese eggs and Old Bay seasoning. Mix until thoroughly combined. Fold in the crab meat corn and chives. Pour mixture into the pie shell. Bake for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve with a dollop of tomato jam.

Tomato Jam

2 lb. Ripe tomatoes peeled and chopped

2 Cups sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 Teaspoon salt

1 Teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a saucepan over a medium heat combine the tomatoes sugar pepper and salt. Stir frequently and reduce to a simmer. When liquid has reduced remove from the heat and add lemon juice. Ladle into a clean jam jar. The jam will keep for at least 6 months in the refrigerator.

Crab Corn & Tomato Salad

2 Corn on the cob kernels removed

1/4 Cup basil chopped

1/4 Cup red bell pepper chopped

4 Tablespoons red onion finely chopped

1 lb. Crab meat chopped

2 Cups cherry tomatoes

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.


1 Tablespoon grated lemon rind

5 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice divided

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Teaspoon honey

1/2 Teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 Teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients and whisk well. Drizzle dressing over crab mixture and serve.

Fried Green Tomatoes & Crab Salad

1/2 Cup cornmeal

1/2 Cup flour

1/2 Teaspoon cayenne

1/2 Teaspoon salt

4 Medium green tomatoes

2 Eggs

1/2 Cup vegetable oil for frying

In a shallow dish combine cornmeal flour cayenne pepper and salt. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl. Cut each tomato into 1/2 inch thick slices. Dip tomato slices into egg and then into the cornmeal mixture.

Heat oil in a skillet and fry tomatoes for 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towel.

Crab Salad

1 Corn on the cob cooked kernels removed

1 Lime zested and juiced

1/2 Cup fresh cilantro leaves chopped

1 Tablespoon onion finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 lb. Crab meat

In medium bowl combine the corn lime zest and juice cilantro onion salt and pepper and olive oil and stir to combine. Fold in the crab meat cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

Top each fried green tomato with a tablespoon of the crab salad distributing the crab salad evenly. Serve immediately.