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How to Make a Mini Crab Appetizer

Crab is the perfect meat for an appetizer because it is delicious hot or cold, can be made into several different dishes and has a sense of richness about it. Although these types of appetizers are most popular along the coasts, particularly the coast of the Atlantic Ocean where crabbing is done, people throughout the country can enjoy savory crab appetizers by purchasing canned or frozen crabmeat. These appetizers, which are not difficult to make, are sure to be a delightful beginning to any party.

Types of Mini Crab Appetizers

Mini crab appetizers can be served many ways. Typically in any recipe, the crabmeat is mixed with fillers before being formed into an appetizer or being placed on a cracker, piece of bread or other food. Some examples include a warm crab dip that can be eaten with chunks of bread or crackers, crab salad that is placed in miniature phyllo cups, crab-stuffed mushrooms and miniature crab quiches.

However, the most popular mini crab appetizer by far is the crab cake. These cakes can be made in a variety of ways but typically include chunk crabmeat, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise and other ingredients for flavor. They can be made by using a deep fryer, broiler or oven to cook them. Of course, baked or broiled cakes are healthiest.

Ingredients Needed for Mini Crab Cake Appetizers

The main ingredient is obviously crabmeat, approximately half to one pound. Although any type of crabmeat can be used, including frozen meat or claw meat, the meat that will give the most gourmet results is jumbo lump crabmeat. Claw meat is usually brown while jumbo lump meat is white and has a slightly sweet taste. Before mixing in any other ingredients, the crabmeat should be thoroughly drained and patted with paper towels to get rid of any extra moisture. In addition, it should be checked over carefully for any leftover shells.

The next ingredient is the filler. Often, this is seasoned or plain breadcrumbs. Panko, or Japanese, breadcrumbs are a great choice because they have a lighter texture than the traditional variety. However, some people choose to use finely crushed crackers for a different taste.

The third ingredient will be something to help hold all the ingredients together. Mayonnaise is often used, and olive oil mayonnaise is a great choice for a gourmet flavor. Some recipes may also call for one to two eggs. Other choices in this area include cream cheese or sour cream for a delightful richness.

The final ingredients are typically all for flavor. This is the area where cooks can use their imagination. A few top ideas include Parmesan cheese, bell peppers, grated lemon peel, chives, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and garlic powder. Those who prefer spicier appetizers may prefer to add jalapeño peppers, hot sauce, chili powder or cayenne pepper. Multitudes of variations exist, including Asian, Southern and tropical flavored miniature crab cakes.

Of course, cooks will also need to gather a few kitchen utensils and have access to a kitchen for making the cakes. They may need an electric mixer for beating sour cream or cream cheese. They will also need a wooden spoon. Baked recipes often call for miniature muffin tins and, of course, an oven. Broiled cakes require a baking sheet and a gas or electric broiler. Many crab cakes are simply made in the deep fryer.

Steps for Making Mini Crab Cake Appetizers

Miniature crab cakes are a perfect option for the busy host or hostess because the crabmeat mixture can be made a day ahead of time. The first step after thoroughly drying the crabmeat is to prepare the crab mixture. If cream cheese or other creamy ingredients are being used, they will need to be beaten together with the seasonings. If not, all of the ingredients, except for some of the breadcrumbs, can be mixed together gently with a wooden spoon. If the mixture is stirred too vigorously, the crabmeat will break apart.

If baking the cakes, tablespoon-sized lumps of the mixture can be placed in the bottom of a greased miniature muffin tin, sprinkled with breadcrumbs and baked at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. After cooling slightly, the cakes should be loosened from the tin with a sharp knife. They can be warmed up in the oven for a few minutes before being served, if necessary.

Broiled cakes are formed into small patties or balls and are arranged on a greased baking sheet. They should be placed a few inches from the broiler. After six minutes, they can be flipped and broiled for another six minutes on the other side.

Fried crab cakes can be made in a deep fryer or in a large skillet with hot oil. If using a skillet, the cakes can be fried for about four minutes before being flipped. After being fried, they should be placed on a paper towel on a plate to catch any excess oil.

How to Serve Mini Crab Cake Appetizers

Mini crab cake appetizers are typically served warm although other types of crab appetizers, such as crab salad, are served cold. Crab cakes can be easily presented on a platter. Before serving, they can be sprinkled with panko bread crumbs or chives. In addition, some like to serve them with a sauce, such as hot sauce or a savory Asian sauce. Another simple addition is adding a small dollop of sour cream to the top of each cake.

Although many shy away from making crab appetizers because they do not have much experience in working with crabmeat, most crab appetizers are quite simple to make. This is especially true of miniature crab cakes, which are warm, savory and delicious. Because crab cakes can be made with a variety of fillers, spices and sauces, each recipe will provide a different flavor. In addition, they can be baked or broiled instead of fried for a healthier alternative.

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