Spicy Crab in Wonton Cups

The flavor of fresh crab is so good on its own that my primary goal in developing this hors d’oeuvre was to use a minimum of ingredients. I wanted to highlight the crab flavor and texture, not mask it. Although I keep a jar of sambal ulek—an Indonesian hot chile paste—in my refrigerator at all times, I thought it might be too obscure to use in this recipe. When I went shopping to buy sambal ulek, my Asian market was out of stock, but my local supermarket had it in the Asian-foods section—yours probably will, too.–Diane Morgan

LC Sambal Oelek Note

We’re going to borrow the author’s words here, seeing as she demystified this ingredient so well: “Sambal oelek, also spelled sambal ulek, is an Indonesian condiment made from chiles, salt, vinegar, and sometimes garlic and tamarind. Sold in jars, it is a fiery paste with bright flavors. A little goes a long way. Other Asian chile pastes with garlic can be substituted, but this one is a favorite of mine. If refrigerated after opening, it will keep indefinitely.” Yup. What she said.

Special Equipment: Two 12-cup miniature muffin tins

Crab in Wonton Cups Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 35 M
  • Makes 20


  • For the wonton cups
  • 20 wonton wrappers (from one 14-ounce package), each cut into 3-inch squares
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • For the crab filling
  • 8 ounces freshly cooked crabmeat, picked over for shells and drained well
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (preferably organic)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sambal oelek, or more to taste
  • 20 fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish


  • Make the wonton cups
  • 1. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Have ready two 12-cup miniature muffin tins.
  • 2. Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time, lightly brush the top side of each wrapper with sesame oil, and press it, oiled side down, into a miniature muffin cup. Repeat with the remaining wrappers, being careful not to use all the oil. Brush the bottom of each wonton cup with a little sesame oil. Bake until the wontons are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely in the tins, then remove carefully. (You can store the wonton cups in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
  • Make the crab filling
  • 3. Place the crabmeat in a medium bowl and use your fingers to flake the crabmeat. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the mayonnaise, minced cilantro, chives, lemon zest, and sambal oelek. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a bit more sambal oelek, if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to fill the wonton cups. (The crab filling can be made up to 1 day ahead.)
  • 4. To assemble, place the wonton cups on a serving platter and spoon about 2 teaspoons crab filling into each cup. Garnish with a cilantro leaf. Serve immediately.
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