Coconut crab cakes with sweet cucumber pickle
My kitchen is showing signs of a burgeoning coconut obsession – I currently have coconut water and yogurt in the fridge and a store cupboard containing everything from desiccated coconut to coconut oil.
Coconut oil takes me back to my childhood holidays. My mum would always buy a jar from the chemist for us to moisturise with after sunbathing, to maintain our hard-won English seaside suntans for as long as possible. I remember putting the jar by the fire to warm, waiting for the solid mass to melt into clear oil, ready to anoint my skin with its lovely coconutty scent.
My coconut oil comes from the health food store these days and it seems to be enjoying a bit of a renaissance in the culinary world. It seemed the natural choice to use to cook these lovely little coconut crab cakes. They have plenty of coconut in them, which blends so well with a southeast asian inspired palate of ginger, chilli and coriander.
I wanted to make a crab cake with as few other ingredients as possible. For this reason I’ve left out the customary breadcrumbs used to bind the cakes together, adding more coconut to the mixture instead. This has the upside of making them delectably crabby, but the downside is that they are a quite fragile. To be honest, a tablespoon or two of breadcrumbs would probably firm them up nicely, but I was content with these soft, delicate little cakes as they were.
Start by making the cucumber pickle, which adds a satisfying crunch and tang to the plate. Its not a proper pickle, more of a marinade I guess. Cut about a 2 inch length of cucumber into 1cm strips. Deseed them and then cube the remaining flesh. In a small bowl mix 1tbsp white wine vinegar with 1tbsp caster sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add a pinch of salt and then the cubes of cucumber. Put in the fridge for an hour or so to infuse.
I recently discovered little 100g pots of half white and half dark crabmeat in the supermarket, which are ideal for this. Put 100g mixed crabmeat into a bowl and then add 1tsp grated root ginger, half a red chilli, finely chopped, the zest of half a lime, 1 spring onion, finely chopped and a small handful of chopped coriander. Then stir in a scant teaspoon of mayonnaise and 3 tbsp desiccated coconut. At this point taste the mixture and see if you want to adjust the flavourings at all. Then separate 1 egg and lightly whisk the white with a pinch of salt before adding about half of it to the mix. Half an egg white seems abut ridiculous I know, but I’ve tried making these without it and they just fall apart.
Once chilled, you need to form the little cakes. Cover a plate with a generous layer of desiccated coconut. Form heaped tablespoons of the mixture into rounds and drop onto the coconut. The crab mix will remain quite sticky, but should form cakes quite easily. Thoroughly coat the cakes with the coconut.
Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a frying pan. If you don’t have coconut oil use another flavourless oil. You will need to keep the heat quite low to prevent the coconut coating from burning. Cook gently for a couple of minutes until golden brown, then turn gently. They will be very delicate so turn with care.
Once cooked, drain the cucumber and serve with the warm crab cakes.
Makes one lavish lunch.
100g crabmeat, a mix of white and dark meat
1 spring onion,
1 red chilli, or 1/4 teaspoon of lazy chilli,
small bunch coriander
1 knob fresh ginger
100g dessicated coconut
white wine vinegar
coconut oil (optional)