I recently had a bit of a rant about food that is neither authentic nor intentionally "fusion". Ever since then, I've been a little more cautious about labelling my dishes "Thai" or "Mexican" or, well, any ethnic type unless I'm really sure of the source of my recipe. After all, I'm an American in Paris. I know American food (such a melting pot that anything, really, can be called authentic) and after a dozen years here I feel fairly confident on French food. But I'm on shakier ground with Asian cuisine.
So this dish is based on a lot of recipes I've seen for Thai crab or fish cakes. But I'm not promising that anyone from Thailand would agree on its pedigree. For one thing, I'm pretty sure such a hot country doesn't include mayonnaise in its cuisine. Anyway, they are tasty and they are Thai-influenced. My nieces, who were initially sceptical, thoroughly approved of them, as did the Critic.
Thai-ish Crab Cakes
1 cup fresh crab meat (or, in my case, a mixture of crab and surimi - it's difficult to find crab meat outside a crab in France)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2-3 Tbs fresh chopped coriandre
juice of 1/2 a lime
2 Tbs soy sauce (Thai fish sauce would be even better if you have any)
1 Tbs chopped fresh ginger
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp piment d'espelette (or cayenne pepper)
2 Tbs vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil, but peanut oil would be fine)
Condiment: Asian ginger and pepper hot sauce
Mix the crab meat, mayonnaise, coriandre, lime juice, soy sauce (or fish sauce), ginger and 3/4 of the cup of bread crumbs together. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining bread crumbs and the cayenne pepper or piment. Pat 1/3 cup of the crab meat mixture into a ball about the size of an egg. Flatten it in the bread crumbs, to coat one side. Turn over and press to coat the second side. Form all the cakes and place them in a refrigerator for half an hour to set.
To cook, heat the oil until it is nearly smoking and carefully place the cakes one by one in the pan. When they are crispy and brown on one side, flip them over and cook the other side. It should only take a couple of minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels and serve piping hot with ginger pepper sauce on the side.
These cakes are not too spicy in this recipe but that was partly because I didn't want to put off the nieces. You could easily double the amount of coriander and ginger and maybe even add a few dashes of hot sauce to spice them up. On the other hand, a more subtle approach does allow the flavour of the crab to come through, which is a very good thing.
Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Deli & Fish Company, Inc.