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Crab cakes with cilantro & lime dip

Crab cakes are kind of the ultimate appetizer for me. They have that satisfying combination of crispiness and tenderness, you can top them and dip them, and what's more fancypants on a special evening than seafood? These crab cakes are seasoned with one of seafood's best pals - dill. The creamy dip is made with chopped cilantro, lime juice, and just a hint of heat from a thai chili pepper. It all comes together in one tasty appetizer.

This recipe makes one dozen crab cakes.

Here's how I made them:

1/2 cup canola oil for cooking
2 120 g cans (4.25 oz) chunk crab meat, drained
1/2 cup onion, minced
1 tbsp prepared dijon mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
juice of half a lime
half a thai chili pepper, minced
pinch salt

While the cooking oil was warming up in a large skillet over medium-low heat, the rest of the crab cake ingredients were added to a large mixing bowl and stirred well to combine. I formed patties about 2-inches across and 1-inch in thickness. Once my oil was ready (you can test it by dropping in a small amount of the mixture, which should bubble when the oil is ready), I added my crab cake patties, cooking for 3-4 minutes a side until golden brown and crispy. They drained on a dinner plate lined with paper towel while I prepared the dip.

The dip is simple. I just combined all the ingredients in a small bowl and stirred to combine. It could be served on top of the crab cakes with a leaf of cilantro, or served on the side for your eaters to help themselves.

This dip is tangy, creamy, and cool with just a little heat.

Using chilies in my cooking is kinda new for me. One of my favourite teaching chefs, Chef Dan Hayes at The London Chef here in Victoria, sent me home with one after a class and I've been trying to find ways to use them ever since.

Served with a favourite salad or a rich and chunky chowder, these crab cakes also make a nice main course.

How do you season your crab cakes? How do you use chilies in your kitchen? What appetizers will you be preparing this holiday season? I'd love to hear what's happening in your kitchen!