Mexican Style Crab Cake Tacos with Roasted Jalapeno and Lime Aoli

As a native Californian who grew up beachside, tacos made with ingredients from the Pacific Ocean are a hallmark for me. Traditionally, crab cakes are served on their own; delectable, buttery discs of sweet crab meat and fluffy bread crumbs, served with a cream-based sauce of some sort and perhaps a light side salad. I wanted to incorporate my culture as a proud Hispanic-American by creating a lighter version of this traditional dish with twice the flavor. Thus, the Mexican Style Crab Cake Tacos with Roasted Jalapeno and Lime Aoli were born.

Crab cakes are pretty simple to make. The key is to allow your uncooked “cakes” to firm up in the refrigerator before shallow frying them. If they’re small, golf ball sized crab cakes like these ones in this recipe, two hours is plenty of time. If you’re making the standard large babies, then I definitely recommend letting them chill overnight.

I made these crab cakes bite sized, so when you add them to your warm, fluffy corn tortilla, they maintain their shape and integrity. Each bite should be a delicate combination of a crispy crust, light and sweet interior, with a hint of bright lime zest, earthy cumin and fresh, thinly sliced chilies. Panko bread crumbs offer a lighter texture and do a great job absorbing the flavors of the other ingredients without weighing the crab cakes down or making them soggy in the center.  I topped off these Mexican Style Crab Cake Tacos with a roasted jalapeno and lime aoli.

Mexican Style Crab Cake Tacos with Roasted Jalapeno and Lime Aoli

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

For Crab Cakes:

  • 1 Cup Cooked Crab Meat
  • 2 Cups Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 2 TBSP Onion - small diced
  • 1 Eggs
  • ¼   Cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 TBSP Lime Juice
  • ½ tsp Lime Zest
  • ½ tsp Cumin
  • ¼ tsp Serrano chile - thinly sliced
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • ¼ Cup Canola Oil - for shallow frying

For Jalapeno Lime Aoil:

  • ¼ Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Roasted Jalapeno - seeded and peeled
  • 2 TBSP Fresh Cilantro
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 TBSP Lime Juice
  • ½ tsp Sea Salt

Instructions

For Crab Cakes

  1. Chop onion into a small dice, and thinly slice serrano pepper. If Using fresh crab, roughly chop until flaky.

  2. Add all ingredients into a glass bowl and gently fold together until mixture is creamy.

  3. Form golf ball sized discs and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

  4. Cover crab cakes with plastic wrap and let chill in your refrigerator for 2 hours. 

  5. Heat a small non stick pan with canola oil at your stove’s medium setting. Oil should gently ripple when it’s ready to be used. 

  6. Using a pair of kitchen tongs, gently place one crab cake at a time into pan to shallow fry. I always recommend pretending your frying pan is a clock and starting at “twelve o’clock.” That way you can keep an eye on the cooking time of each crab cake. 

  7. Cook crab cakes for about 3 minutes per side or until golden. 

  8. Using your kitchen tongs and a metal spatula, gently turn crab cakes over and continue cooking. 

  9. Place cooked crab cakes onto a paper towel lined plate to drain of excess oil. 

  10. Add two to three small crab cakes onto a soft corn tortilla, and garnish as desired. 

For Jalapeno and Lime Aoli

  1. Roast a medium-sized jalapeno in a dry pan on medium high heat until each side is blistered. 

  2. Place roasted jalapeno in a small, covered container and allow to cool off. The steam will loosen the skin from jalapeno. 

  3. Gently peel off blistered skin. You should be left with just the flesh of the pepper. 

  4. Remove seeds and membrane (if desired).This depends on your tolerance of spicy food. The heat is inside the pepper! 

  5. Peel and place two cloves of garlic into a dry pan on medium low heat until roasted. 

  6. Add all ingredients into a food processor, or in my case a bullet blender and blend until silky smooth. You can also use a baby food maker if you have one handy! 

I recommend making the aoli a little in advanced so you give the ingredients time to marry for a bolder flavor. You can keep this recipe for up to a week in a covered container in your refrigerator, and even use it for salads or sandwiches!

Step – by – Step Instructions

For Aoli:

Step 1: Roast Jalapeno

Roast a medium-sized jalapeno in a dry pan on medium high heat until each side is blistered.

Step 2: Place Roasted Jalapeno Aside

Place roasted jalapeno in a small, covered container and allow to cool off. The steam will loosen the skin from jalapeno.

Step 3: Peel Jalapeno

Gently peel off blistered skin. You should be left with just the flesh of the pepper.

Step 4: Remove the Seeds

Remove seeds and membrane (if desired) using the tip of your chef’s knife. This depends on your tolerance of spicy food. The heat is inside the pepper!

Step 5: Toast Garlic Cloves

Peel and place two cloves of garlic into a dry pan on medium low heat until roasted.

Step 6: Blend Ingredients

Add all ingredients into a food processor, or in my case a bullet blender and blend until silky smooth. You can also use a baby food maker if you have one handy!

For Crab Cakes:

Step 1: Prep Ingredients

Chop onion into a small dice, and thinly slice serrano pepper. If Using fresh crab, roughly chop until flaky.

Step 2: Combine Ingredients

Add all ingredients into a glass bowl and gently fold together until mixture is creamy.

Step 3: Form Crab Cakes

Form golf ball sized discs and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Step 4: Refrigerate to Set

Cover crab cakes with plastic wrap and let chill in your refrigerator for 2 hours. This is very important to help your crab cakes maintain their shape when frying. If you skip this step, they’ll most likely fall apart.

Step 5: Heat Oil

Heat a small non stick pan with canola oil at your stove’s medium setting. Oil should gently ripple when it’s ready to be used.

Step 6: Gently Flip

Using a pair of kitchen tongs, gently place one crab cake at a time into pan to shallow fry. I always recommend pretending your frying pan is a clock and starting at “twelve o’clock.” That way you can keep an eye on the cooking time of each crab cake.

Step 7: Cook Until Golden

Cook crab cakes for about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown or a light amber color.

Step 8: Continue Cooking

Using your kitchen tongs and a metal spatula, gently turn crab cakes over and continue cooking.

Step 9: Drain Oil

Place cooked crab cakes onto a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess oil.

Step 10: Garnish and Serve

Add two to three small crab cakes onto a soft corn tortilla, and garnish as desired. Top off with your homemade Jalapeno and Lime Aoli, thinly sliced red onion and a little fresh cilantro.

This recipe is very approachable and believe it or not, pretty affordable too! Since we’re only using about one cup of crab meat for 8 hearty tacos! Having other components like our veggies, a few spices and fresh herbs also bulk up each crab cake, without weighing it down.

This dish is very light in texture, and is a great modern twist on a classic recipe. Plus tacos are great during any season and on any occasion. Remember that recipes are guidelines, so if you want to add or omit ingredients to your crab cakes or the aoli, feel free to do so and most of all, enjoy!

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