Thai Crab Cakes 3.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Jun 18, 2014

This recipe deserves a berth in your crab cake repertoire, because of the pungent, bright-tasting combination of kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, chili pepper and cilantro. And even though fresh bread crumbs are employed, the small cakes' taste and texture is all crab -- not filler.

You'll need a thermometer to gauge the frying oil temperature.

Serve with salad greens.

Make Ahead: The crab cake mixture needs to be refrigerated for 15 minutes. (It can be done up to 30 minutes in advance.)

Where to Buy: Fresh kaffir limes leaves are becoming more widely available; in addition to Indian markets and Lotte Plaza in Chantilly, we found them in the herb section at some Whole Foods Markets.

3 - 4

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 3-4 servings; makes 10 to 12 small crab cakes

  • 3 slices (3 ounces total) white bread or whole-wheat bread
  • 6 fresh kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 stalk lemon grass
  • 2 small red (bird's-eye) chili peppers
  • 3 scallions
  • Leaves from 3 or 4 stems cilantro
  • 1 pound crabmeat
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • Heaping 2 tablespoons regular or low-fat mayonnaise
  • Peanut oil or canola oil, for frying
  • Flour, for dusting


Cut the crusts off the bread, then cut the bread into chunks, placing them in the food processor as you work. Pulse just long enough to create pea-size crumbs; the yield should be 3 cups. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

Pile the following ingredients on the cutting board as you work: Coarsely chop the kaffir lime leaves. Use the flat side of a chef's knife to smash the lemon grass, then discard the tough outer layer(s); coarsely chop the rest. Seed the chili peppers, if desired, then coarsely chop. Trim the scallions, then coarsely chop (white and all green parts). Transfer it all to the food processor, along with the cilantro; pulse just until evenly chopped (but not to the point of a wet mixture). Transfer to the mixing bowl; toss with the breadcrumbs.

Pick over the crabmeat to remove any cartilage, then add to the bowl, along with the fish sauce and mayonnaise. Stir gently to incorporate; the mixture will not quite hold together. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

With about 5 minutes' chilling time to go, pour about 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; heat to a temperature of 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels, then seat a wire cooling rack on top.

Shape the crab mixture into 10 to 12 small patties of equal size. Spread flour across the bottom of a dinner plate; Lightly coat each crab cake on both sides, shaking off any excess.

Add half the flour-coated crab cakes to the hot oil; if the first one in doesn't sizzle, adjust the temperature of the oil as needed. Fry for about 2 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom; turn them over and fry on the second side for 2 to 3 minutes. Use two slotted spatulas to transfer the crab cakes to the rack to drain. Repeat with the remaining crab cakes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "The 30-Minute Cook," by Nigel Slater (Penguin, 2006).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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