Fonio-Crusted Crab Cakes

Fonio, a variety of millet, gives Pierre Thiam‘s West-African-inspired crab cakes a satisfyingly crisp crust.

Featured in: Crab Cakes That Taste Like Senegal

Fonio-Crusted Crab Cakes Fonio-Crusted Crab Cakes
Fonio, a variety of millet gives these West-African-inspired crab cakes a satisfyingly crisp crust.
Yield: serves 4-6
Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes


  • 1 large green plantain (about 10 oz.), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 5 tbsp. red palm oil or vegetable oil
  • 13 cup fonio
  • 2 tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. lump crabmeat
  • 14 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Lime wedges, for serving


  1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the plantains until very soft, 16 to 18 minutes. Drain the plantains, and then transfer to a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon palm oil and mash the plantains until smooth.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the fonio with 13 cup water, bring to a boil, and cook, covered, until tender, 2 minutes. Remove the fonio from the heat and let stand, covered, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the cooked fonio to the plantains along with the 12 teaspoon lime juice, the cilantro, onion, and egg and season with salt and pepper. Gently fold the crabmeat into the plantains, and then shape the dough into twelve 1-inch thick patties.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the remaining fonio and then dredge each crab cake in the fonio. Transfer the crab cakes to a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 4 tablespoons palm oil and 2 tablespoons lime juice with the ginger, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour enough vegetable oil to come 14-inch up the side of a 12-inch skillet and heat until a deep-fry thermometer reaches 375°. Working in batches, add the crab cakes to the oil and fry, flipping once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a rack set over paper towels to drain for 3 minutes, and then serve hot with the ginger dipping sauce and lime wedges.