Spicy Crab in Wonton Cups

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.

Crab in Wonton Cups

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

Special Equipment: Two 12-cup miniature muffin tins

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  • 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 store-bought or homemade mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon minced cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon snipped chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (preferably organic)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sambal oelek, or more to taste
  • 20 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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