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The Dish: Crabcakes

Jan 24, 2014 09:53AM ● Published by Cate Reynolds

By Kimberly Cooper // Photography by Tony Lewis, Jr.

Thursday’s Steak & Crab House
4851 Riverside Drive, Galesville
410-867-7200
Thursdaysrestaurant.com

There is no shortage of crabcakes in Maryland. It’s pretty much the home of the crabcake and everyone has their own. But Thursday’s Steak and Crab House, located in Galesville, has got the no-filler crabcake down. There is not one single breadcrumb in the cake. Just crab, seasonings, and a little bit of love to hold it all together. Owner David Hysan shares with us their recipe for a great no-filler crabcake, as well as his ideas on dining out in the area and how to enjoy work.

Tell us a little bit about Thursday’s. How long have you been open?

We presently own two restaurants. Thursday’s Bar & Grill in Owings and Thursday’s Steak & Crab House in Galesville. Our very first location, Thursday’s Bar & Grill opened in North Beach almost 16 years ago. In July 2012, we relocated three miles up Rt. 260 into the Paris Oaks Shopping Center, which has been a fantastic move for us. We are presently trying to purchase the entire shopping center. In May of 2004, we opened our second location in Galesville at the old Steamboat Landing. We have made the location into a crab house with outside dining and tiki bar open during the summer.

How did you get your start in the restaurant industry?

I decided I wanted to open a restaurant while I was in college. Upon graduation, I went to work at Wayson’s Corner Restaurant and was quickly promoted to general manager three months later. I have been in the restaurant business ever since.

As a crab house, what do you do when crabs aren’t in season? Is there another dish that takes the spotlight?

Since we only serve local crabs, our season usually ends in early November. We are always willing to fl y in crabs during the winter for large parties, but we do prefer to stay local. Almost all of our crabs are caught within 15 miles of the restaurant. During the winter, we rely on selling crabcakes, prime rib, steamed shrimp, and our local bar business to get us through.

What is your most important tool in the kitchen?

The most important tool is a consistent staff, who works well together. We could close during the winter and save money, but then we would have to hire a completely new staff every year. I have had my two kitchen managers for the entire time we have been in Galesville. And the core of the day and night staff have been with me for more than six years.

How often do you change the menu at Thursday's? Are there popular items that just remain on the menu year-round?

We change the menu twice a year. During the winter, we cut the menu back dramatically and take off the items that didn't sell well vear before. In the summer, we expand the menu, usually trying new sandwiches and appetizers. We go through the list of last year’s specials that sold well, and try to incorporate them into our summer menu. The base menu of soups, appetizers, burgers, steaks, and crabcakes will always remain the same. They are the basis for our success.

What, do you think, is the key element in running a smooth kitchen and restaurant?

I believe you have to be a hands-on owner, and have managers that buy into your philosophy of running a business. I work every weekend from 8 a.m. until 9 or 10 p.m. and a few days during the week. And my managers work just as hard as I do. We try to hire a staff that wants to work, likes to work, and likes to have fun. I always tell my son, “Play hard, but work harder!”

How did this dish originate?

I like to keep things simple—let the food speak for itself. And I have had crabcakes done a thousand different ways, but all I want to taste is the crabmeat.

What wine or drink pairs best?

I am a beer guy. So any ice cold beer, especially on a hot summer day, tastes great with a crabcake. This year, my favorite is the Devil Back Bone Vienna Style Lager.

What is the most important step when cooking it?

I prefer my crabcakes broiled. And if you have a convection oven, they come out perfectly in 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

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Recipe
CRABCAKES

1 lb. fresh backfin or lump crabmeat (local is best)
1 egg
2 tbsp. mayo
1 tsp. yellow mustard
1/2 tsp. L&P Worcestershire sauce (L&P is gluten free)
1 tsp. Old Bay

(Yes that is it. Do not under any circumstances add bread crumbs because someone told you they won’t stick together without them. They told you that so they can make a cheaper crabcake.)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl but the crabmeat; whip with a whisk. Pick through the crabmeat carefully to find any shells. Gently fold the crabmeat into the mix after you have whipped the other ingredients together. Portion the mixture into six-ounce crabcakes. Wrap the crabcakes individually in plastic wrap and twist the bottom of the plastic wrap tight to make it into a tight ball. Let refrigerate one hour (this is what helps hold them together). Then place on a tray in the oven lightly covered with butter. Cook at 400 degrees in a convection oven for 15 minutes, slightly longer if using a standard oven. If you like fried crabcakes, turn your fryer to 350 degrees and let them cook for about 5 minutes.
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