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
- 1 large green plantain (about 10 oz.), peeled and roughly chopped
- 5 tbsp. red palm oil or vegetable oil
- 1⁄3 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
- 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Lime wedges, for serving
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.