Map showing ThailandThai Crab Cake recipeRoyal Thai Crab Cakes are a mix of fresh lump crab meat and fluffy cooked rice.  The combination makes for a delicate texture and brings out the sweetness of the crab.  Tiny bits of chopped salty ham add a delicious depth of flavor.  Sweet and sour dipping sauce is the perfect accompaniment.

Thai crab cakes ingredientsI threw my back out the morning of our Passover Seder, as I was rearranging tables and chairs, so I’m moving much slower than usual.  I’m not sure what to do besides wait it out.  The advice runs the gamut: Use ice.  Use heat.  Go to a chiropractor.  Don’t.  Lay low.  Walk it out.  The silver lining in all of this has been that I’ve given in to spending the past few days in a comfortable chair, reading through old cookbooks – a favorite pastime.  True Thai by Victor Sodsook has been in my collection for years.  There are so many interesting recipes I want to try, but these crab cakes grabbed me.  The idea of a dish developed for royalty got my attention. I was also intrigued by the new twist of mixing the crab meat with cooked rice.

how to cook Royal Thai crab cakes

Crab cake patties are quickly pan friedRoyal Thai crab cakes are lighter and fluffier than the more conventional ones.  They’re not heavy or oily.  They have a beautiful brown crispy crust and they hold together really well.

recipe for royal Thai crab cakes

Platter of royal Thai crab cakesI can see why these crab cakes would be suitable for royalty.  They have that delicate balance of sweet and salty flavors that is so prized in Thai cuisine.  Plus, they make an elegant presentation on a platter!

Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Thai
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8-12
Light, crispy crab cakes with sweet and sour dipping sauce
  • Sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out with a spoon, and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced Thai chilies or jalapeños
  • Crab Cakes
  • 1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked over
  • 2 cups cold, cooked, long-grain rice, such as Jasmine (rinse the rice before cooking)
  • ¼ pound Virginia ham, finely diced
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (from a small can)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain Panko bread crumbs
  • Oil for pan-frying
  1. Make the sauce In a small saucepan, combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt. bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes, until it thickens slightly. Remove from heat and set it aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile put the sliced cucumber, sliced shallot, and chilies into a small serving bowl. Pour the cooled sauce on top. Stir and set aside.
  3. Make the crab cakes Sprinkle Panko bread crumbs onto a large plate. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, add the crab, ham, eggs, flour, condensed milk, rice and salt. Use your hands to mix thoroughly. Form the crab mixture into small patties (about 2 inches across - about 3 level tablespoons of the mixture per cake) You'll have to press them together firmly as you shape them, to get them to be sturdy. As you form a cake, press it into the plate of crumbs. Coat both sides and place it onto the parchment. Continue until all the crab is used. You should have 20-24 crab cakes.
  4. Line a large plate or cookie sheet with paper towels. Heat about ½ inch of oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, until it's hot enough to sizzle a Panko crumb. Cook crab cakes in batches of 4 or 5 until golden brown and cooked through, about 25-35 seconds per side. Using a slotted spoon or slotted spatula, transfer cakes to paper-towel-lined plate or cookie sheet to drain. Arrange crab cakes on a platter and serve hot with dipping sauce.
  5. Note: crab mixture can be made a day ahead and kept covered in the fridge.



  1. Tony says

    Could you place the peppers and shallots in the liquid when you take it off the heat wouldn’t this give the liquid some of the flavor of them? I have a spring cocktail party I’m giving and this sounds perfect…

    • Lisa Goldfinger says

      Hi Tony, I think you’re right. It would probably be fine to mix the peppers and shallots with the hot sauce and it might even add extra flavor. But I would wait until the liquid cools to add the cucumbers so they don’t get cooked and limp. Hope you have a great party. Lisa

  2. melinda says

    these look amazing was a little bummed that there is flour and bread crumbs in them my son is allergic to wheat. wounder if we could figure out a way to make it without that hummm any ideas ?

    • says

      Hi Melinda, how about rice or almond flour for the mixture and gluton-free bread crumbs to coat them? Or if you can’t find gluten free bread crumbs, I bet you can get away coating the crab cakes with rice flour before you sauté them. You might also try mixing them with a little cooked quinoa and mashed potato and skipping the flour altogether. If they hold together well, try searing them carefully, without any coating at all. If you decide to try any of these ideas, I’d love to know how they turn out!

    • says

      I would suggest frying the crab cakes and then freezing them. You can reheat them in a 425º oven on a baking sheet. Brush the sheet with a little oil first. It will probably take 15-25 minutes for them to heat through. The sauce can be made a day ahead but you might want to slice up the vegetables and keep them in a baggie and add them to the sauce closer to the time you’ll be serving, so they stay crisp.

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