Mini crab cakes with ginger and scallions is a Japanese inspired appetizer or light meal. They’re super crispy on the outside, tender and meaty inside ~ a hint of fresh ginger and lime makes them irresistible!
easy mini crab cakes are an elegant appetizer
Everybody loves crab cakes, but they become extra special when you shrink them down to starter size. It’s a little 6-ingredient indulgence that anyone can make. These Asian inspired cakes have a different flavor profile from traditional Maryland style crab cakes, but the principles are the same…pack as much buttery lump crab meat as you can into little patties, coat them in bread crumbs (in this case Japanese style panko crumbs,) pan fry until uber crispy, and serve with a delicious mayo based sauce.
ingredients for ginger scallion mini crab cakes
The golden rule when cooking with expensive shellfish like crab or lobster is that less is more. You don’t want to add extraneous ingredients that crowd out your star. Simple ingredients, simply prepared should be your mantra.
- crab meat ~ see tips below for choosing the right crab for crab cakes.
- Japanese panko bread crumbs ~ these extra crisp crumbs absorb less oil than traditional breadcrumbs, and keep their crunch. They simulate the crispness of fried food without the deep frying!
- fresh ginger
- pinch of salt
the dipping sauces
No mystery here, just mix mayo with either sriracha or prepared wasabi sauce for a party in the mouth in every bite. You might be surprised to know that mayo is a staple condiment in Japan, they use it as much as we do. Japanese mayo is very similar to our mayonnaise, but they use egg yolks and rice wine vinegar, plus a touch of sugar and msg.
what type of crab to buy for crab cakes
Crab meat is expensive, so it pays to educate yourself about this pricey shellfish. I like lump crab meat for crab cakes, and I use pasteurized crab meat, found in the refrigerated section near your store’s fish counter. Canned crab from the tuna aisle will not be nearly as tasty. If you live in an area where you can find fresh picked crab meat, go for it!
- MY CHOICE: lump ~ lump crab meat is also white and delicate, but in smaller pieces than the jumbo grade, making it a good choice for most crab recipes, including crab cakes, crab balls, and crab dip.
- jumbo lump ~ the highest grade crab meat, it’s pure white, firm, with a delicate flavor. You don’t need to spring for it for this recipe, the meat will be too lumpy for such small cakes.
- backfin ~ smaller pieces of lump, plus other random bits of crab body meat.
- claw meat ~ darker, oilier, and ‘fishier’, this is the lowest grade, and doesn’t have much texture.
pan frying vs baking crab cakes
I pan fry crab cakes because it’s easy to do, and I think it results in the crispiest crust. You aren’t using a ton of oil, so I think it’s the best way to go. You can bake them, however, if you prefer. I would brush them with oil on both sides before sliding them into a 375F oven. Bake until golden and hot throughout, about 20 minutes, flipping your cakes halfway through the baking time.
air frying crab cakes
Set your machine to 375F. Spray the basket with oil, and brush or spray your crab cake patties with oil on both sides. Arrange in the air fryer basket without crowding. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until crispy and hot throughout, flipping your cakes halfway through the baking time.
storing and reheating leftovers
Leftover crab cakes can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat in a 325F oven until hot, about 10 minutes.
turn mini crab cakes into a meal
You can make these cakes larger, if you like, or just serve yourself more! For dinner I serve them over a proper salad. Nothing fancy, just fresh greens, some red onion, tomato, cukes,…that kind of thing. Want to get a little fancier? Keep the Asian theme going and serve them with my Asian Slaw or make Japanese Cucumber Salad (Sunomono) to go on the side. My crunchy and colorful edamame salad would also make a good pairing.
if you love these mini crab cakes you might also love
- Lobster Pasta Salad
- Crispy Crab Balls
- Hot Crab Dip
- Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Shrimp
- Pink Pineapple Shrimp Skewers (with huli huli sauce)
- Lemon Garlic Shrimp with Orzo
- New England Shrimp Rolls
- Shrimp Taco Salad
- 6 Minute Instant Pot Lobster Risotto
Mini Crab Cakes with ginger and scallions
crab cake mixture
- 12 ounces lump crab meat. I used canned wild caught lump crab meat that I got from the refrigerated section of my supermarket's fish counter. (Drain any liquid if necessary.)
- 1/3 cup Japanese panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup finely minced or finely sliced scallions
- 3 Tbsp mayonnaise
- 4 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp fresh lime juice
- toasted sesame oil for frying
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, well beaten
- 1 cup Japanese panko bread crumbs
sriracha mayo dipping sauce
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp sriracha sauce (more to taste)
- 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
wasabi mayo dipping sauce
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 3 Tbsp prepared wasabi sauce, or to taste, as sauces vary.
- 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
- cilantro leaves or other leafy green
- lime wedges
mix the crab mixture
- Put the crab cake mixture ingredients (except the oil) in a bowl and gently toss everything together to combine well, without breaking up the crab too much.
Form into balls
- Form into 12 balls, a scant 1/4 cup each. I used an ice cream scoop, but you can use a 1/4 cup measure as well. Compress the mixture so it holds together. Note: don't worry if they seem loose, the breading will help hold the cake together during cooking.
coat the crab cakes
- Put the flour, beaten eggs, and panko crumbs each in a separate bowl. Coat each crab cake ball in the flour first, dusting off any excess. Then coat in the egg mixture, letting excess drip off before finally coating in the panko crumbs. Make sure to get the whole ball coated completely. Set on a plate.
fry the crab cakes
- Work in batches to as not to crowd your pan. Add 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil to your pan and heat over medium to medium high heat. When the oil is hot add your crab balls and gently press down with the back of a spatula to form a patty shape. Fry for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy and hot throughout. Note: moderate the heat so the cakes don't burn. Add more oil for each batch of cakes.
- Serve the crab cakes immediately with some fresh greens to garnish (I used cilantro) and lime wedges.
for the wasabi sauce
- Stir together the mayonnaise and the wasabi sauce and the rice wine vinegar. Taste to adjust.
for the sriracha sauce
- Stir together the mayonnaise and the sriracha and the rice wine vinegar. Taste to adjust.