Green Chile Crab Cakes with Tomatillo Salsa

I have been searching for a great crab cake recipe for years. And while I have a list of probably five different recipes I want to try, I pushed this one to the top of this list this week.  It was my turn to choose again for Project Pastry Queen and after loving every savory recipe I’ve made from The Pastry Queen since I became part of the group, I was instantly drawn to this part of the book.  I couldn’t pass up this recipe especially since it leans towards the Tex Mex side of the spectrum (as many of Rebecca Rather’s recipes do) and you all know about my recent Mexican food adoration.  Jalapeños and roasted poblanos in the crab cake with a roasted tomatillo salsa on top? I’m game!

The lump crab really does take center stage in spite of the lengthy ingredient list and we absolutely loved this recipe.  The extra coating of panko on the outside of the cake you’ll apply before frying lends to an extra crispy crust; it’s one aspect I find to be so important in a great crab cake.  I’ll admit that I probably could have baked then broiled them to save a few calories but nothing compares to a fried crab cake, especially when they looked so awesome even before they were cooked!  I was definitely curious about the roasted tomatillo salsa since I’ve never made it before and it was the perfect complement to the crab cakes.  Roasting the tomatillos, just as when you roast tomatoes, brings out the natural sugar in the tomatillo and the subtle sweetness of the salsa blends beautifully with the savory crab cake.  In my opinions, the salsa is a must with these crab cakes and since the salsa recipe makes way more than you’ll need for the 8-10 cakes the crab cake recipe yields, you’ll be able to keep the leftovers in the fridge for a week or two to use up with tortilla chips or in chili, tacos, or fajitas…and this is a good thing because I bet you’ll fall for this salsa just as much as I did.

Make sure you check out what the rest of the group thought about today’s Project!  Next up: Toffee Bar Brownie Torte.


Green Chile Crab Cakes with Tomatillo Salsa
source: Rebecca Rather, The Pastry Queen

For the Tomatillo Salsa:
1 lb tomatillos, papery skins removed, halved
1 medium-sized yellow onion, sliced
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt, or more to taste

For the Crab Cakes:
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Roasted Chile (see instructions below), optional (I used a poblano)
1/2 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely diced
1 lb lump crabmeat, cleaned
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

To roasted the chile:
Preheat the broiler.  Broil the chile about 2 minutes per side, until blackened and blistered on all sides.  Remove from the broiler using tongs or oven mitts and enclose in a paper bag to sweat for 5 minutes. (You can also place the chile on a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 5 minutes.) Remove the chiles from the bag/bowl and peel.  Slice in half and remove and discard the stems and seeds.  If you want some extra heat, keep some of the seeds.  Dice the chiles and set aside.

To make the salsa:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Place the tomatillos, onion, and garlic on a baking pan.  Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables and roast, stirring once, for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are brown around the edges.  Cool the vegetables for 10 minutes.  Spoon the vegetables into a blender or a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until puréed.  Transfer the purée to a glass jar and refrigerate until cold, about 45 minutes.

To make the crab cakes:
Melt 2 tbsp of the butter and 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat.  Add the onion, bell peppers, garlic, and both chiles; sauté for 5 minutes.  Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel (it will be used again to saute the crab cakes).

In a large bowl, combine the crabmeat, lime juice, cilantro, eggs, 2 cups of the breadcrumbs, the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.  Stir in the vegetable mixture and form into 8 to 10 3-inch-diameter patties.  Pour the remaining 1 cup breadcrumbs into a medium bowl.  Coat the patties in crumbs.

Melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil in the same large skillet over medium heat.  Add the crab cakes and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside.  Serve immediately with the tomatillo salsa.

Leftover crab cakes can be wrapped tightly and refrigerated for 2 days.  Set the oven rack in the middle of the oven and reheat the crab cakes under the broiler for 2 minutes.


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Leave a Comment

  • March 20, 2011 at 7:54 AM

    Mmm, your crab cakes look delicious! Thanks for choosing this one! 🙂

  • March 20, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    Great choice! The salsa was sooo fantastically sweet. I only made a half batch of the salsa for a whole batch of crab cakes – and then regretted not making a full batch almost immediately.

  • March 20, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    […] can see the full recipe over at Smells Like Home. Thanks, Tara, for picking a winner. Stay tuned next week when the group tackles an insanely crazy, […]

  • March 20, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    The salsa might be the fave part. You could use that on a bunch of things, though crab is a nice as it’s a sweet meat. Perfect!

  • March 20, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    this looks incredible!

  • March 21, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    Hello Tara! I am starving, cleaning my daughters room (13 years of age) and am so ready to take a bite out of these cakes! Delicious! What a dream meal – We are heading to FL. in two weeks.. I think I will pop this recipe into my suitcase so I can grab some fresh crab and make these! – Beautiful photo –

  • March 22, 2011 at 10:22 PM

    This was such an awesome pick, Tara! I have a feeling I’ll be making these all summer long!

  • March 23, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    These look impressive ! I love crab meat, but in Holland they don’t sell lump crab meat sadly. I don’t think I could buy a whole crab and clean off the meat myself. Although your photos are making me think about the possibility at least !

  • March 23, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    Appreciate the directions for how to store leftovers but how could there possibly be leftovers?!?! Great recipes!

  • March 24, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    Breakfast be damned. I want some of these now!!

  • March 24, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    Wow. They look stunning. If you’ve been looking around for ages for the best crab cakes, then I am in awe of them. Your recipe is definitely saved! Now I just wish we had crab in the house for tonight. It’s now on my list…

  • egb
    March 24, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    These look great!

  • March 31, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    These look soooooo good! This is defiinitely a unique take on the traditional crab cakes. Can’t wait to make this.