Although there's nothing quite like crab meat freshly picked from the shell, there's no shame in using canned crab meat, or even imitation crab, for this recipe. Instead of choosing just any packaged crab meat off the shelf, better brands of canned crab meat can be found in the refrigerated section of the fish counter at most grocery stores. Look for unpasteurized fresh-picked crab meat, which will have sweeter crab flavor and better texture so they can stand up to the dip without being overpowered by the tanginess of the cream cheese or the heat of the chilis. The spiciness of the dip can also be easily ratcheted up or down by decreasing or omitting the chile peppers and/or Sriracha.
- 1 tablespoon Canola oil
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot (about 1 small)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
- 1 to 2 Bird's Eye chili peppers, thinly sliced. Or 1 Serrano chili pepper, deseeded and minced
- 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 16 ounces canned crab meat, preferably unpasteurized, or flaked imitation crab meat (see note)
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a small skillet pan over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the shallots, garlic, and chili peppers and cook until the shallots soften and the garlic just begins to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and allow to cool completely.
Add the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Sriracha, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, crab meat, green onions, and half of the cilantro to the bowl and mix well until a homogenous dip is formed. Taste the dip, and season with salt and pepper as needed.
To serve, transfer the dip to a clean serving bowl, or into individual ramekins, and garnish with the remaining cilantro. Serve with toast points, your favorite chips or crackers, or vegetable platter.