Crab cakes and buttered crab claws with buttered spinach and chilli jam

James Martin packs all the best parts of the crab into this decadent dish, then pairs the sweet meat with a biting homemade chilli jam.


For the chilli jam
  • 75g/3oz caster sugar
  • 2 red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 3 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 8 lime leaves
  • 2 lemongrass stems, tough outer leaves removed, finely chopped
  • 25g/1oz roughly chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, left whole
  • 2 small shallots, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 40ml/1½fl oz sesame oil
  • 50ml/2fl oz dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp clear honey
  • 3 limes, juice and zest
  • 110g/4oz crème fraîche
For the crab cakes
  • vegetable oil, for deep frying
  • 75g/3oz brown crabmeat, passed through a sieve
  • 50g/2oz cooked mashed potato
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • 4 tbsp ready-made dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
For the white crab
  • 125g/4½oz white crabmeat, picked
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 25g/1oz butter
  • 4 crab claws, cooked, shell removed
For the buttered spinach
  • 50g/2oz butter
  • 250g/9oz baby spinach leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation method

  1. For the chilli jam, heat the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over a low to medium heat until it melts and forms a golden-brown caramel. Do not stir and keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn.

  2. Blend all of the remaining chilli jam ingredients, except the crème fraîche, in a food processor to a smooth purée.

  3. Once the sugar has caramelised, pour in the puréed chilli jam mixture and stir well. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until sticky and jam-like. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

  4. Meanwhile, for the crab cakes, heat the oil in a deep fat fryer to 190C/375F. Alternatively, heat the oil in a deep, heavy-based saucepan until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped into it. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)

  5. Mix the brown crabmeat, mashed potato and coriander in a bowl until well combined. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and lemon juice, to taste.

  6. Divide the mixture into four small balls, about 3cm/1½in diameter.

  7. Mix the breadcrumbs, poppy seeds and sesame seeds together.

  8. Sprinkle the seed mixture onto a plate. Sprinkle the flour onto another plate. Beat the egg in a bowl.

  9. Dredge each crab cake first in the flour, then dip it in the beaten egg, then roll it in the breadcrumb and seed mixture until completely coated.

  10. Carefully lower the crab cakes into the hot oil and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown and completely cooked through. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on kitchen paper. Keep warm until needed.

  11. For the white crab, mix the white crabmeat with the lime zest and juice, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  12. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat until hot, then add the butter. When the butter is foaming, add the cooked crab claws and fry for 1-2 minutes, or until warmed through. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  13. For the buttered spinach, heat a frying pan over a medium heat until hot, then add the butter. When the butter is foaming, add the spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until wilted. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  14. Once the chilli jam mixture has cooled, stir in the crème fraîche until well combined.

  15. To serve, pile some of the wilted spinach into the centre of each of four serving plates. Place a quenelle of the white crabmeat on top of the spinach and top that with one of the buttered crab claws and a crab cake. Spoon the chilli jam alongside.

James Martin recipes from Saturday Kitchen

Less than 30 mins preparation time

10 to 30 mins cooking time

Serves 4

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