Light Bites

Crab cakes with lemongrass and ginger and a Thai dipping sauce

Written by Karen Coakley

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I consider myself lucky on many counts, some of these being that I am lucky enough to be from West Cork, I had a great childhood and I had parents who like to have fun. When I was a child we had a caravan and summers were spent on the sand dunes at Barleycove, which is a wild and majestic place. Although I grew up by the sea I was never fond of seafood. Fish was smoked haddock which we ate on a Friday and mid week was scallops! Yes SCALLOPS! Back then who liked scallops? We used to get bags of them for FREE because we lived near the pier in Bantry and had a lot of old fisherman friends who would throw them back to sea but my dad always loved them so they gave them to us which means that amid the depression and recession of the 70s we actually ate like the boom of the noughtys! We didn’t get the champagne though, instead my mother had her demi johns with her home brew wine on the go which always brought quizzical looks from visitors.

Fridays would see our Vauxhall Cavalier loaded up with dog, everything but the kitchen sink and off we’d go to Barleycove.
Barleycove was a haven for a young girl like me, I lived in a dreamy world of Enid Blyton books full of adventure and danger. I used to swam in the river near the dunes and invariably always ended up stepping on a crab or two, I used to try to dodge around them. Lying belly up on the beach with their meat having been devoured by some lucky sea gulls they amazed me…I’d pick them up and I can still smell that rotting salty seaside smell. These West Cork, Barleycove crabs were like the Jean Claude Van Damme of Hollywood, huge bodies and big claws, you didn’t want to end up waving one of those at the end of your foot.
It’s amazing how you grow up and everything changes, when I see a crab now, I don’t shriek I drool and when I see a scallop now I don’t drool I just shriek….I shriek at the price we pay for them now when once upon a time they kept this family happy and hunger free on a Wednesday night.
This is an awesome recipe for Crab Cakes with Sweet Chilli and Ginger dipping sauce. The sauce makes loads and will keep for a few weeks in the fridge. These are delicious served with a nice crisp salad and Roast Sweet Potato Wedges. Cooking crab is my payback for the many years of being pinched at Barleycove!


You will need….

For The Dipping Sauce


  1. To make the dipping sauce, blend the garlic, chillies, ginger, lime leaves, lemongrass and corriander in a food processor until very finely chopped. Tip the sugar into a small saucepan, add 3 tbsp water and heat gently to dissolve. Continue to cook for another minute or so until the syrup starts to thicken slightly.
  2. Add the chilli and ginger mixture and cook for another 2-3 mins, stir in the rice vinegar, fish sauce or lime juice and soy sauce. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Cook the beans for 1-2 mins until tender. Refresh under cold water and pat dry. Finely chop the beans. Mix the crab, beans and all remaining ingredients together apart from the sunflower oil. Season with freshly ground salt and black pepper and shape into 8 small patties.
  4. Heat 1-2 tbsp sunflower oil in a frying pan and cook the crabcakes until golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Serve with the dipping sauce.
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