Crab Cakes with Chimichurri Dressed Pea Sprouts & Avocado

My memories of savoring freshly prepared crab are very rustic and humble. I grew up on the East coast, where blue crab was plentiful. My mom would bring them home live from the market, and the lively critters would scamper in the paper bags, sometimes…

Crab Cakes with Chimichurri Dressed Pea Sprouts & Avocado

My memories of savoring freshly prepared crab are very rustic and humble. I grew up on the East coast, where blue crab was plentiful. My mom would bring them home live from the market, and the lively critters would scamper in the paper bags, sometimes escaping. The sight of a crab scrabbling across our kitchen floor would make me scream and laugh, until mom deftly swiped it up with her tongs — a quick rinse under the faucet and into its bubbly, boiling fate it would go.

The crabs were sweet and tender, and in true Filipino fashion, the preferred dipping sauce was a garlic infused vinegar. My parents were always puzzled at how restaurants served crab with butter – why ruin an already good thing?

If you grew up with the opposite experience, you may find the vinegar and garlic off putting, but I assure you, it’s not! It truly complements the crab’s sweetness perfectly.

Now that I’m on the West coast, Dungeness crabs are my crabby meat. It’s not nearly as sweet as blue crab, but because of their size, your hard shelling work is rewarded with larger lumps of luscious morsels. And because the flavors are milder, I can appreciate now how butter might come into play, but I still prefer my tangy and pungent flavors.

Tangy. Pungent. Spicy. These are the flavors I crave now, and it’s no wonder that I have fallen in love with chimichurri sauce. Often seen served with Argentinian style grilled meats, I have found that I love drizzling the potent sauce on nearly everything. And you know what? It works like a charm on crab cakes.

Crab Cakes with Chimichurri Dressed Pea Sprouts & Avocado is an explosion of flavors I truly think you will enjoy. Cilantro, parsley & jalapeno add life to the lofty crab cakes, which have a light crunch from panko bread crumbs. Served on a little pool of chimichurri, the sauce cuts into the cakes like a grown up tartar sauce. Add some creaminess and crunch with avocado and some pea sprouts, and your crab cakes are dinner party ready.

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Crab Cakes with Chimichurri Dressed Pea Sprouts & AvocadoPrint Friendly and PDF

Serves 4.


Chimichurri Sauce

  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

Crab Cakes

  • 8 oz fresh Dungeness crab meat (or your favorite crab), cooked
  • 4 tablespoons celery, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh pea sprouts (or fresh micro greens)
  • 2 avocados, sliced

Chimichurri Sauce:
Using a food processor, finely chop the garlic. Add cilantro, parsley, sherry vinegar, oil, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pulse until herbs are finely chopped. Set aside or store tightly sealed in the refrigerator. Can be made a day or two in advance.

Crab Cakes:
Pick through the crab meat and remove all shells. Gently squeeze the crab meat to remove excess liquid. Combine the crab, celery, cilantro, parsley, jalapeno,  and lemon zest in a bowl and stir. Add the mayonnaise and stir until it is well incorporated. Diving the mixture into 4 portions, form patties. If you have a 2 inch ring mold, that helps to form even patties, 2 inches wide and about 1 1/2 inches high. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until ready to cook and serve.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the tops and bottoms of the crab cakes with the panko crumbs. Heat olive oil in the skillet, add the crab cakes and cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, until the cakes are golden brown on both sides. If you wish, you can cook the second side by placing in a 350º oven for the last 3 minutes.

To serve, place one crab cake on a teaspoon of the chimichurri sauce. Toss pea sprouts in a few tablespoons of the sauce and place on the plate. Top sprouts with avocado slices and drizzle a bit of the sauce on top. Serve immediately.

Chimichurri sauce adapted from Gourmet, January 2001, via Epicurious.
Crab Cakes adapted from Boulevard: The Cookbook (Oakes, Mazzola & Weiss, 2005).



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  1. Debi Shawcross

    Yes please! Liren, these are beautifully golden brown, and looking like they are pretty happy in that chimichurri. I know I would be happy with them in front of me.

  2. RavieNomNoms

    What an interesting combination! I have never seen crab cakes and chimichurri paired together before. It looks fantastic!

  3. Barbara | Creative Culinary

    I’ll tell you want…for this dish I would happily travel to either coast. Though I do love butter dripping from crab, I can’t lie, this looks beyond amazing and I would be happy to take a detour and try something new. Absolutely stunning photos.

  4. angela@spinachtiger

    This is a lovely way to eat crab cakes. I grew up on blue crab in the east cost too. And, I’m still quite partial to the blue crab. When I lived in California, it’s what I missed most.

  5. Holly Henry

    Love, love, love this recipe! I have a can of jumbo lump crab sitting in my fridge that I’ve been pondering what to with…now I know! Many thanks and my compliments to your wonderful blog!


  6. kankana

    when u teased us with peek in twitter I knew it’s gonna be good. This is classic presentation and the gorgeous green sauce .. my oh my am drooling!

  7. Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane

    I adore your story about the crabs on the kitchen floor. Sounds like we had a similar upbringing, although mine included Maine lobsters scampering around on the kitchen floor (on purpose — hours of entertainment for the kids!). I’m definitely of the same mind when it comes to chimichurri, too. There’s almost isn’t a more perfect sauce.

    • Liren

      I can just picture you playing with Maine lobsters as a little girl…the last time we prepared lobsters here, my son had the best time just playing with the antennae! Who needs toys when sea creatures are involved?

  8. Joan Nova

    It’s funny you mention butter sauce…it was exactly because this was not a butter sauce that had me click on to the post. I totally agree with you and much prefer vinegar and garlic. Beautiful plating too.

  9. Dianna

    I’ve never tried vinegar and garlic with crab but I’m thinking that the taste must be similar to the way I prepare mine which is fresh chopped garlic and parsley and freshly squeezed lemon over boiled and cleaned crab legs and body meat. These crabcakes look delicious which is what caught my eye. I don’t think I’ve ever made a crab cake but your recipe is putting big ideas into my head!!! Thanks for sharing a beautiful recipe!

    • Liren

      Hi Dianna, the flavors do sound quite similar. Love the freshness that the parsley and lemon adds to your garlicky crab!

  10. Mimi from California Avocados Direct

    What a beautiful way to enjoy avocados! We put avocados on almost everything, since we grow them on our family ranch. Crab cakes are a favorite too! We shared your post link on our Facebook page of avocado recipes today. Thank you! Facebook/Avocados_Direct

  11. carolineadobo

    Mmmm, crab cakes! You got me thinking of cooking these since your teaser pic last night. I love the pairing with chimichurri sauce AND avocados, both I have to try now.

  12. Kita

    I think in where I am if I said out loud that these look amazing I would be drug through the streets. They are all about the ‘Old Bay’ and cocktail sauce. But if you promise not to tell anyone, I have to confess, these sound outstanding. I would have to try them in the cover of night with no one looking, but I bet they are worth it.

    • Liren

      We’ll have to have a chimichurri speakeasy of sorts, Kita, so you can try these one day!

  13. GastroStu

    These look like really special crab cakes and also the food photography is amazing. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  14. Lacy

    These pictures are beautiful! And the food looks amazing, I love crab cakes & I bet this recipe is fantastic. Can’t wait to try!

  15. Monet

    This takes crab cakes to a whole new level of deliciousness! Goodness, this looks just spectacular. Now I have to add this to my “Must-Cook” list. Thank you for sharing such a tasty eat. I hope you have a great weekend full of love and good food. Take care!

    • Liren

      To ensure proper freshness, I’ll have to fly out there and make it for you :)

  16. Koko

    Great looking recipe! I have just thawed some crab meat out, hope to make this ASAP!

  17. patty

    Hi Liren, I’m sure you are getting your children ready for school while you are so generously sharing this wonderful crab cake recipe with us, I don’t know how you accomplish all that you do – but, I sure do enjoy your photographs and recipes!
    I grew up the left coast enjoying Dungeness crab especially around the Christmas holiday season. Your crab cakes with chimichurri sauce look wonderful to me- no matter which coast you hail from this dish is a winner;-)

  18. Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet }

    Chimichurri sauce is one of my weaknesses and paired with an incredible crab cake, now we are talking food nirvana. Your photos are stunning and what a wonderful recipe. Might just have to make this over the weekend. Have a good one Liren!!!

  19. PriPriscilla - She's Cookin'

    Lofty crab cakes indeed! Beautiful huge hunks of crab meat, L.O.V.E. Although I prefer to savor the crab’s sweetness alone, i.e. no butter, your tangy chimichurri sounds amazing!


    Liren, these are really, really beautiful . . . the color alone, makes me want to whip these gems together; this looks bright, fresh and light – unlike the mayo-heavy, red pepper sauce crab cakes of the South – I enjoy those too, but the flavor profile on this one looks divine!

  21. Jean

    I’m so with you on the vinegar dipping sauce over butter, but of course, our taste buds had similar training. :)

    I love, love crab cakes but I’ve never thought to pair with chimichurri sauce. This is such a winner.

    Have a great weekend, Liren!

  22. Norma

    It is an explosion of flavors…so tropical with the avocado side. Great post Liren!

  23. Laurie Siegmund

    I am catering an event and need to make crab cakes but can’t be frying the amount I need at the facility. Can you bake these….they sound amazing.

    • Liren Baker

      Hi Laurie, that’s a great question. You probably could bake them; another option would be to fry them ahead of time, then reheat in the oven. I hope that helps, and good luck with your event!

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