Your comprehensive study guide to Baltimore seafood

Some of these will be painfully obvious

to many, but are included because I’ve been asked to define them on more than one occasion. A surprising number of people I know have never actually eaten a hush puppy. Crab cake-related entries included for comprehensiveness.


Cheese fish sandwich

A fried fish fillet, almost always of the prepackaged frozen variety (usually chopped and formed pollack), topped with American cheese and served on a burger or sub roll. A McDonald’s Filet O’ Fish can correctly be referred to as a cheese fish sandwich.

Coddies/fish cakes

Deep-fried fritters made from reconstituted salt cod, some sort of starchy filler (usually mashed potatoes), and often a coating of breadcrumbs or cracker meal.

Crab ball

Miniature crab cakes, shaped into balls.

Crab fluff

A crab cake that has been battered and deep fried.

"Crackers and mustard"

Used as either a request by the customer or an interrogative by the vendor. Crackers and mustard are the usual accompaniment to cake-type seafood—crab cakes, coddies, or salmon cakes—in lieu of bread for a sandwich. Generally, if you’re asked “Crackers and mustard?” just answer “Yes, please.”

Deviled crab

An old-school item that is becoming increasingly rare—crab meat (usually the lowest grade) mixed with filler and spices, then packed into an empty crab topshell and either deep fried or baked.

Fried hard

Special instruction applicable to any deep-fried item, but most often used with chicken or fish, indicating extra cooking time intended to produce a crunchier or “harder” exterior, and consequently an extra well-done interior.


Fried hard crab

No relation to the above term: Think “(fried) hard crab.” Partially disassembled whole crab stuffed with a crab cake, the whole thing then battered then fried.

Half and half

Half lemonade and half iced tea. Unlike a traditional Arnold Palmer, the half and half is made with sweetened iced tea, and is thus much sweeter overall than the former.

Hush puppies

Deep-fried cornmeal-batter balls, usually slightly sweet, sometimes containing whole corn kernels.

Lake trout

Deep-fried fillets of fish, usually whiting (an ocean-dwelling member of the cod family), usually bone-in but also served boneless, often coated in a seasoned cornmeal breading, and often served with sliced white bread. Baltimore-style lake trout is never made with actual trout, and almost never made from lake-dwelling fish. There is a trout called a “lake trout,” but it isn’t found in our part of the country.

Oyster stew

This one’s more of a caveat, but traditional Maryland-style oyster stew is essentially oysters cooked in milk and cream, and not much else.

Salmon cake

Canned salmon mixed with filler (usually breadcrumbs), mayonnaise, egg, and seasoning, formed into flat cake, and fried or broiled.

Soft-shell crab

A crab that’s caught after it has molted but before its new shell has hardened. It’s served whole except the gills and face (eyes and mouth parts) have been trimmed off, and either deep- or pan-, but almost always fried.

Stuffed shrimp

Large shrimp that are stuffed with crab—usually the establishment’s lowest-grade crab cake mixture—then fried or, less often, broiled.


A term you don’t see too often anymore, it’s used to denote the largest of five size classifications for soft-shell crabs (5.5-inch-plus point to point). The other four in descending order (separated by half-inch increments) are jumbos, primes, hotels, and mediums.


items not shown to scale or deliciousness