Yesterday I did a cookbook review of Fingerfood by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern. I mentioned three recipes that seem ideally posed for a Super Bowl Feast. This is one of them: different, bright and bursting with flavor. How can a crabcake be different? Well, this has fish sauce and beans and noodles. Yeah, it is that different. Read on and consider this for Sunday.

Thai Crabcakes with Chili Dipping Sauce

Yield: about 30


For the crabcakes:

  • 3 red chilies, cored
  • 3 scallions, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 cilantro stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger or galangal, chopped
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced, or grated zest of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 8 ounces boneless fish fillets, such as cod
  • 1 ½ cups crabmeat (fresh, frozen, or canned)
  • 2 Chinese long beans or 12 beans, finely sliced
  • 1 ounce. beanthread (cellophane) noodles (1 small bundle)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil, for frying

For the chile dipping sauce:

  • ½ cup white rice vinegar or lime juice
  • 1 red chili, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce, such as nam pla
  • 1 scallion, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar


Put the chilies, scallions, garlic, cilantro stalks, ginger or galangal, kaffir lime leaves or lime zest, and fish sauce in a food processor and work to a paste. Add the fish and work to a j paste. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the crabmeat and beans.

Soak the beanthread noodles in a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes, then drain and snip into short pieces, about 1 inch long. Mix into the fish and stir in the beaten egg. Wet your hands with water and shape the mixture into flat hamburger-shaped patties of 1-2 tablespoons each.

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet and swirl to coat the sides. Add the crabcakes, 3 at a time, and sauté until golden. Transfer to a plate lined with crumpled paper towels and keep them hot in the oven while you cook the remaining crabcakes.

Mix the dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and serve with the crabcakes.

Source: Fingerfood by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern [Ryland Peters & Small, 1999]