Cookbook Profile

Crispy Crab and Sweet Potato Cakes
with Tamarind Dipping Sauce


Makes about 18 to 24 small cakes


The white potato, imported from the Americas, did not have a significant impact on the cuisines of Southeast Asia, except in dishes heavily influenced by Indian tradition. The sweet potato, however; with its higher protein and sugar content, has fared much more successfully and is used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. These delicately seasoned, crisp little fritters make an excellent appetizer or hors d'oeuvre, served hot with a sweet-and-spicy dipping sauce.


2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Several good grinds of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried hot pepper
1 medium shallot, minced
2 teaspoons grated or finely minced gingerroot
2 teaspoons finely minced lemongrass,
   or 1/2 teaspoon dried powdered
2 teaspoons minced fresh galangal, or
   1/2 teaspoon dried powdered (Laos powder)
2 to 2-1/2 cups grated peeled sweet potato
   (1 medium to large, about 8 to 10 ounces)
8 ounces fresh crabmeat,
   picked over to remove any cartilage
Peanut oil, for frying


1. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, then stir in the salt, sugar, black pepper, hot pepper, shallot, gingerroot, lemongrass, and galangal and mix well.

2. Stir in the grated sweet potato and mix thoroughly, then fold in the crabmeat. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Heat about 3 to 4 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy skillet over high heat. Drop the sweet potato mixture by small tablespoons into the hot oil. Fry, turning once, until golden brown on each side. Drain the cakes on paper towels. Serve warm with tamarind dipping sauce.


Tamarind Dipping Sauce


Makes about 1/2 cup


1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate (see Note)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated or very finely minced gingerroot
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried hot pepper


Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened and syrupy. Let cool before serving. The sauce will keep well, covered, in the refrigerator.

Tamarind is available dried and pressed, with the pits still in it, or as a strained concentrate in small jars. It will keep almost indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Buy the Book!  

Crossroads Cooking
The Meeting and Mating of
Ethnic Cuisines—from Burma to Texas in 200 Recipes
By Elisabeth Rozin
Viking Press, June 1999
Hardback, 288 pages, $27.50
ISBN: 0-670-87883-1
Recipe Reprinted by permission.


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This page created September 1999