Mariner’s Menu
Lights, Camera, Crab Cakes:

Cooking North Carolina Seafood with Chef Ricky Moore

image: Ricky Moore.

Chef Ricky Moore. Credit: Becky Kirkland.

Mariner’s Menu, North Carolina Sea Grant’s popular online seafood guide, features blogger and photographer Vanda Lewis’s pictures with hundreds of recipes that Joyce Taylor developed. And now you can watch an expert prepare two Mariner’s Menu classics – as well as a brand new recipe.

“Cooking North Carolina Seafood Seafood” is the new Mariner’s Menu video series, featuring Chef Ricky Moore, the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in the Southeast, owner of Saltbox Seafood Joint in Durham, and a member of North Carolina Sea Grant’s advisory board.

The first three videos feature Chef Moore preparing baked grouper with fresh herbs, crispy flounder fillets, and one of the chef’s own recipes, “My Crab Cakes.” You can watch all three videos here.

The recipes are below. Enjoy!

image: Baked grouper.

credit: Vanda Lewis.


1 1/2 pounds of grouper fillet, cut into 4 serving-size pieces

3 tablespoons of butter, melted

1 tablespoon of dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, freshly ground

1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, minced

1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, minced

1 teaspoon of fresh tarragon, minced

½ teaspoon of paprika

Preheat the oven to 450° F.

In a small bowl, combine the butter, wine, salt, pepper, parsley, thyme, tarragon, and paprika. Spoon or brush it evenly over the fillets.

Place it in a lightly greased baking dish. Bake at 450° F on the middle rack of the oven until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 15 minutes.

image: Crispy Flounder Filets.

credit: J. Barry Nash North Carolina Sea Grant.


2 pounds of medium flounder fillets, cut in serving-size pieces

2 tablespoons of dry vermouth

1 bay leaf

9 tablespoons of canola oil


freshly ground black pepper

1 cup of flour

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups of dry breadcrumbs

5 tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon of pressed garlic

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme

2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

Combine the vermouth, bay leaf, and 6 tablespoons of oil. Marinate the fillets 20 to 30 minutes, depending on their size.

Remove the fish from the marinade and discard the marinade. Salt and pepper the fillets, then dredge them in flour. Brush them with egg. Dip them into breadcrumbs, pressing crumbs on gently.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to 375 F. Add 3 tablespoons of butter and melt. Place the fillets in the skillet, flesh side down. Cook until golden brown on one side, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and repeat on the other side. Drain the fillets on paper towels, and then remove them to a serving dish.

Wipe the skillet with paper towels. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, and cook until foamy and brown. Add garlic and cook lightly, but do not brown. Stir in the parsley, thyme, and lemon juice. Drizzle over the fish.

image: crab cakes.

credit: Vanda Lewis.


1 pound of jumbo lump (75%) and backfin lump (25%) crabmeat, fresh or pasteurized

20 Ritz crackers, finely crushed

1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon of grated lemon zest

¼ cup of mayonnaise (Preferably Duke’s)

1 large egg

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

4 dashes of hot sauce (preferably Texas Pete)

¼ cup of canola oil

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

Drain the crabmeat, if necessary, and pick through it for any rogue shells. Combine the crabmeat, cracker crumbs, parsley, and lemon zest in a large bowl, using your fingers to gently break apart some of the lumps.

In another bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Add this mixture to the crab mixture, gently stirring it to combine. It will be somewhat loose. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Scoop the chilled crab mixture into six ½-cup mounds, and lightly shape them into patties, about 1 ½ inches thick.

Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the crab cakes to the pan. Cook until the undersides are dark golden brown, 4-6 minutes; then flip the cakes. Reduce the heat to medium low, and add the butter. Continue to cook until the second sides are browned, 4-6 minutes. Remove the cakes, and drain them on paper towels. Serve immediately.

“My Crab Cakes” is from Chef Ricky Moore’s Saltbox Seafood Joint Cookbook.

For hundreds of fresh seafood recipes, visit

from the Spring 2023 issue of Coastwatch magazine