Fonio-Crusted Crab Cakes

  • Serves

    serves 4-6

  • Cook

    1 hour 45 minutes


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


  • 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


Step 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.

Step 2

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the fonio with 1⁄3 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 1⁄2 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.

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 5

Pour enough vegetable oil to come 1⁄4-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.

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