Crab Cakes with Pasilla Chile Aioli

This Mexican chile pepper is called “Chilaca” when used fresh. In California the Poblano chile is often called Pasilla. Since most of these are bought and distributed from California this mislabeling often carries over into the supermarkets nationwide causing alot of confusion. This chile is very mild and is usually consumed in the dry form to make the famous Mexican ‘mole’ sauces.

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1/2 pound shelled and cooked crabmeat
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup minced carrots
1/2 cup minced celery
1-1/2 tsp. lemon juice
2 white bread slices
1 Tbsp. salad oil
fresh cilantro sprigs

Pasilla Aioli:

2 large dried pasilla chiles
4 oz. can sliced pimientos
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 chopped garlic clove
3 Tbsp. dry white wine
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste


To prepare the Aioli:

Remove and discard the stems and seeds from the dried pasillas. Rinse the chiles and using scissors scissors, cut the chili into 1/2″ pieces.

Drain the pimientos and pat dry.

In a 10 to 12″ frying pan combine the olive oil, chili, pimientos and garlic. Stir over medium heat for 2 minutes, then add the wine and lemon juice. Stir over high heat until most of the liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and boil, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 2 minutes. Let cool.

Whirl the mixture in a blender or food processor with the mayonnaise until smoothly pureed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare the Crabcakes:

Mix crab, mayonnaise, carrots, celery and lemon juice. Add the salt, ground pepper and cayenne to taste.

Tear the bread into chunks and whirl in a blender or food processor until crumbs form. Mound the crumbs on a plate and drop 1/4 cup portions of the crab mixture into the crumbs, and sprinkle crumbs over top. Pat into 1/2″ thick cakes and setr aside.

Place a 10 to 12″ nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Lightly coat the pan with oil and cook the crabcakes, using a wide spatula to turn once, until browned on both sides, about 4 minutes total.

Place the cooked crabcakes on salad plates and keep warm. Garnish with cilantro and Pasilla aioli to taste.

Recipe from Anton Brunbauer, Hyatt Regency Scottsdale, Scottsdale AZ.