Thai-meets-Scottish crab cakes to celebrate Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight


The approaching end of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight prompted me to devise this recipe showcasing one of my favourite local ingredients – crab. Our house in East Lothian almost dips its toes into the North Sea, and fishing boats are a common sight from our windows. Though there’s little white fish left, mackerel, langoustine and crab remain plentiful, the shellfish hauled up in the traditional creels that leave the delicate seabed undisturbed. We’re all aware now that eating fish can be a sustainability minefield, but these local delicacies are a guilt-free treat.

Creels at Dunbar Harbour

Our high street fishmonger sells white crab meat in little pots all prepped and cooked for you, so enjoying it can be as simple as sprinkling it over a salad. Here Thai flavours spice things up, but it’s the quality of the crab that steals the show. I was delighted with how these cakes turned out, and they’re so easy and quick to make they’ll become a staple of the menu board.

Along the way, a few more of Scotland’s most innovative and delicious ingredients made these a success – in honour of SF&DF I took a few more photos than usual to show them off.

Notes: If you can’t find lemongrass-infused oil, you could just bash a stick of lemongrass with a rolling pin to tenderise, chop it very finely and mix with lime juice, miso and chilli. Or use sweet chilli sauce, but that would be a shame as the lemongrass dipping sauce works really well.  

Serves two as a main, four as a starter (make 10 or 12 cakes respectively).

Crab cakes
200g white crab meat
100g finely milled breadcrumbs
1 heaped tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
2 free range / organic eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
2 spring onions, finely sliced
zest of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (nam pla)
1 chilli, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
black pepper

5 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons coconut oil

Dipping sauce
2 tablespoons lemongrass-infused oil
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon sweet miso paste
1/2 chilli, finely chopped

Use some of the coconut oil to grease a baking tray, then scatter a tablespoon of flour over.

Whisk together the dipping sauce ingredients, set aside.

Midlothian-grown, harvested and hand-bottled, supernature rapeseed oils come infused with a variety of ingredients – they last forever as you only need a drop, and are invaluable for giving flavour to quick weeknight dinners

Mix together the crab meat, breadcrumbs, ginger, coriander, spring onions and lime zest, with a good cracking of black pepper.

Break the eggs into a separate bowl, add the nam pla, chilli and garlic and lightly beat together, then pour over the crab mixture. Using your hands, thoroughly scrunch it all together.

If you’re serving two people, you want to make 10 crab cakes. If you’re making this as a starter for four people, you need 12. Scoop up a tablespoon or so of the mixture, roll it into a ball with your hands and flatten out into a patty. Arrange them on your prepared baking tray as you go, then dredge the tops with flour.

This is exciting flour. Hear me out: Mungoswells mill their own wheat, grown in East Lothian, to make it – the only farm in Scotland to grow and mill all their own wheat for flour. They do a whole bunch of other great grain-related stuff.

Heat the rest of the coconut oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Carefully place the patties in the frying pan floured side down, and cook for 4 minutes. Before you flip them dredge the tops with flour, so the cakes are now lightly floured on both sides. Cook for 4 minutes on the other side, so they’re hot through and crisp on the outside.

Serve with the dipping sauce, a crisp green salad, chips (if you’re greedy like us), and a glass of Scottish fruit wine.


Taste a Scottish-Thai rainbow