Nigel Slater's midweek dinner: quick crab balls

Crab is usually off budget for a midweek supper, but you can make a dressed crab go further with a few breadcrumbs and some clever spicing. Makes 12, serves 3-4.

The recipe

Put a hot red chilli, seeds included, a clove of garlic, 100g soft white bread and a large bunch – about 20g – of coriander (leaves and thinner stalks) into the bowl of a food processor and blitz till finely chopped. Tip into a mixing bowl and add 2 tbsp of mirin and 400g mixed brown and white crabmeat, and season with salt and ground black pepper.

Shape the mixture into 12 small balls. Warm a very fine layer of oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the balls and cook over a low heat till they are deep gold on the underside, then turn and continue cooking till they are gold all over. Serve immediately.

The trick

Use enough breadcrumbs to produce a mixture that will keep its shape when rolled into balls. You will need slightly different amounts depending on the type of bread you use. Do a trial ball first to make sure they hold together. Use a lowish heat, so the crab heats right through to the centre.

The twist

Grated lime zest is a sparkling addition to the recipe, as would be tarragon, finely chopped, or maybe a little anchovy.

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