Publix, SeaPak and Trader Joe’s Crab Cakes Rate Highest

Retail products from Publix, SeaPak Shrimp & Seafood Co. and Trader Joe’s, each priced at $7.99 in Florida and ranging from six to eight ounces per package, ranked first, second and third in a Best Frozen Crab Cakes blind taste test conducted recently by the Tampa Bay Times.

The newspaper engaged four judges who selected six frozen crab cake brands and private labels from grocery store freezer cases and prepared them according to package directions. The panel consisted of Bob Devin Jones, artistic director at Studio@620; John Hehn, owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg; and Kay Hodnett, personal chef.

Publix crab cake 300Publix Premium Frozen Crab Cakes outscored all others in a blind taste test.Private label Premium Crab Cakes from the Publix chain scored 77 points out of 100, followed by SeaPak’s Maryland Style Crab Cakes’ 65 points, and Trader Joe’s Crab Cakes’ 61 points. The panel concurred that each would be a good choice for a quick dinner on a hot summer night.

The jurists were especially impressed with the plumpness, plentiful meat content and little filler found in Publix Premium Crab Cakes.

"A big salad with one or two of these on top would be good enough for company," remarked one judge.

"They are beautifully presented," said another jurist. "They have wonderful flavor and they look the most homemade. I'm in crab cake heaven!”

SeaPak Maryland style crab cakes 300SeaPak Maryland Style Crab Cakes, complete with aioli sauce, scored second in the tasting with 65 points.Noting that the attractive SeaPak offering appeared to be hand-made, the judges liked the minced scallions and peppers ingredients blended with the large chunks of meat.

"It looked like it would taste too much like green and red peppers, but it didn't," said one jurist. "It was actually very tasty."

Another judge, appreciative of the product’s creamy texture, added: "This would pass muster in Maryland."

Tampa Bay Times correspondent Kathy Saunders reported that while judges said Trader Joe's Crab Cakes were “a bit anemic looking,” the nonetheless “packed plenty of taste.”
They liked the overall balance of crabmeat to filling, and said the cakes would be best prepared by sautéing in a pan.

"They need more color," said one jurist. "I would sprinkle these with paprika before heating them, and serve them with lemon wedges to brighten them up."

Another judge, who liked the taste and texture, commented: "These would make a stronger statement fried in butter."

Other frozen crab cakes tested by the panel included a Gorton's product ($6.49 per 6-ounce package), which scored 22 points; Shaw's Southern Belle ($7.99 for a 12-ounce pack), 22 points; and Ocean Cafe ($9.99 per 17-ounce package), 19 points.