The search and finding of Eastern shore crabcakes

Chincoteague Island lies just south of Maryland's border, inside the long dune reef that stretches down the Atlantic coast. The town of Chincoteague, barely more than a hamlet, is know chiefly for three things: the wild ponies forced to swim to the island across its east channel in yearly roundups, wildfowl at the nearby national refuge, and its seafood.

Amateur fishermen can cast for stripers and flounder in the nearby surg, while the more ambitious can charter a small oceangoing craft for tuna and mackerel.

On our visit, we were after authentic Eastern Shore crabcakes, ready to eat.

We asked at the Refuge Waterfowl Museum for the best seafood restaurant in town. We were told it was the Pony Pines Restaurant, a modest establishment -- "with dancing on the weekends" -- on East Side Road, near the site of the channle pony swim.

Theresa Judge, the Pony Pines' owner, shared this recipe for her delicious crabcakes. Pony Pines Carbcakes 1 pound backfin crarbmeat 1/2 cut mayonnaise 1 tablespoon finely chopped green pepper 2 teaspoons finely chopped onion 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes, or 1 table spoon fresh chipped parsley 1 egg 1 tablespoon white vinegar 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 3/4 cup Golden Dipt seasoned coating mix (or homemade cracker or dry bread crumbs) 1 egg 3 tablespoons milk Salt and pepper Breading coating mix for dredging

Shortening for frying

Combine crabmeat, mayonnaise, green pepper, onion, parsley, 1 egg, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce in mixing bowl with a spatula. Fold in 3/4-cup coating mix. If using homemade cracker meal or dry bread crumbs, add salt, pepper to taste.

Shpe heaping tablespoons of crabmeat mixture into 3/4-inch-thick, 2-inch-wide patties. This will make 12 crabcakes. With fork, mix well 1 egg, milk, salt, and pepper. Brush egg mixture on patties, dip in bread coating mix, place on wire rack until ready to fry.

Fry in 1/2-inch melted shortening or vegetable oil until lightly browned on both sides. Set on paper toweling until served. Serves 4 as entree, 6 as appetizer.

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