Creamy Crab Poppers
These pretty appetizers flecked with green & red and full of sweet crabmeat are a holiday favorite. Very good crabmeat is now available all year round. The markets here in Vegas sell it in eight ounce cups. It’s cooked, pasteurized and ready to use right out of the container. We love it for our crab cakes and in these terrific bites loosely based on my current passion, Spanish chicken croquettes.
The creamy seafood filling is a simple thick béchamel sauce. When cooled, the filling hardens sufficiently to be rolled into balls and coated with those crunchy Japanese-style breadcrumbs, panko. When fried, the exterior is crisp, and the interior is luscious and creamy.
I almost always use panko bread crumbs in place of traditional bread crumbs. They remain crispy for hours after frying, perfect for appetizers cooked in advance. Panko can be found in just about every supermarket these days either in the Asian aisle or next to traditional bread crumbs in the baking aisle. We particularly like the Kikkoman brand.
These appetizers are great as is or served with a cocktail or tartar sauce for dipping.
Creamy Crab Poppers
4 tablespoons butter
4 ½ tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup light cream (half & half)
1 teaspoon sherry
½ teaspoon minced dehydrated onion
2 tablespoons minced pimiento
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely minced
8 ounces fresh crabmeat
Salt & pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
Flour for dusting
Panko bread crumbs (Kikkoman)
Oil for shallow pan frying
Melt the butter over medium high heat and add the flour. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the cream, sherry, and onion. Continue to cook over medium heat until mixture is bubbly and form a thick paste. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
When cooled to room temperature, stir the pimiento, parsley and crabmeat into the paste and combine well, Taste for seasoning and add salt & pepper to taste.
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the mixture and refrigerate a few hours until cold and very stiff (this can be done a day ahead, if desired).
Form the paste in to small balls and dust lightly in flour. Roll in the beaten eggs, then coat well in the panko breadcrumbs. Place in the freezer while heating the oil for frying or until ready to cook. Quickly fry in pre-heated medium-high temperature oil until light golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 24 bite-sized appetizers.