Miniature Crab Tortas with Jalapeño Sour Cream

Ryan DePersio

Battello, Jersey City, NJ; Fascino, Montclair, NJ; and Nico Kitchen + Bar, Newark, NJ

Sweet, succulent crabmeat is gently folded with shallots, chives, tarragon, and other aromatics; dredged with a light coating of panko bread crumbs to achieve the perfect crust; deep-fried to perfection; and finished off with a dollop of spicy yet refreshing jalapeño sour cream.


Crab Tortas:
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
1 pounds super lump crabmeat 
1 large egg
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons panko breadcrumbs, plus more for breading 
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped chives
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying
1/4 cup micro-basil or 18 small basil leaves for garnish

Jalapeño Sour Cream:
1 jalapeño
Olive oil
2 tablespoons packed spinach,
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 lime, juiced


Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and sweat until translucent, about 7 minutes. Set aside.

Oil the jalapeños and roast on a sheet tray for 20 minutes so they are charred and the skin begins to peel away. (Note: if you have a gas stove, you can char the jalapeños on the stovetop by turning your burner to the highest setting and setting the jalapeños directly on the flame. Use tongs to turn the peppers over until their skin is completely blackened.) Set aside in a bowl. Cover with plastic.

Dry the crabmeat on paper towels and place in a large bowl. Fold in the shallots, egg, panko bread crumbs, olive oil, chives, mayonnaise, parsley, mustard, oregano, and tarragon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Weigh out 1-ounce balls of the crab mixture and form into patties; you should have about 18 patties. Lightly bread the cakes in the extra panko crumbs. 

Make the jalapeño sour cream: use an immersion blender to purée the charred jalapeños, spinach, and water in a small measuring cup. In a bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the purée with sour cream. Add the lime juice and whisk to combine. Add more purée to get a spicier sour cream. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil to 350°F. Deep-fry the crabcakes for about 30 seconds, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

To serve, place a small dollop of the jalapeño sour cream on each crabcake and top with basil.


6 to 8 servings as an appetizer