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Chele di Granchio (crab meat polpette)

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

In Italy you find these quite commonly, ready to be cooked from frozen. I make my own, as it gives me the option of making them gluten-free. It's a delicious starter and very easy to make. You can deep fry them or bake them.

Ingredients (makes 12-13):

  • 200gr cooked crab meat

  • 200gr fish sticks (surimi) coarsely chopped

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

  • 2 medium size potatoes (cooked and mashed, roughly 250 gr) - if you're making the gluten free version

  • 300 gr semolina (make it with 3-400 gr of vegetable broth, until cooked but quite stiff, and dress it with some salt and 20gr of butter) - if you're making the traditional version

  • 1 shallot

  • 1 tsp fine salt

  • 1/2 tsp of ground white pepper

  • 100 gr dry breadcrumbs (you can use gluten free bread if needed)

  • 50-70gr plain flour (or rice flour)

  • 3-400gr vegetable oil if deep frying


  • Chop the shallot

  • Put in the mixer the crab meat, the fish sticks, 1 egg, the shallot, the parsley, half the salt and half the pepper and mix it well

  • Add the mashed potato or the semolina

  • Add some breadcrumbs until stiff enough that it can hold a shape when handled

  • Taste the mix, and add the remaining salt and / or pepper if needed

  • Shape your "chele" in biggish oblong shapes

  • Put the "chele" in the fridge to rest for 1 hour (or up to 1 day, or freeze them, but if you do, they need to be thoroughly defrosted before proceeding, pat dry them and be aware that they will absorb more flour)

  • Beat the remaining 2 eggs in a wide bowl

  • Lay the flour in a wide bowl or on some baking paper, same for the breadcrumbs in another bowl

  • One by one, coat your "chele" into the flour (shaking off the excess), then dip them into the eggs, and finally coat them into the breadcrumbs. Set them aside on a tray

  • Once they're all ready, put a wooden toothpick into one end, leaving it sticking out 1cm or so

  • If you have the time, put them back into the fridge for another hour (if they are quite cold the temperature shock with the hot oil will give them even more of a cruncy crust)

  • Now you can either deep fry them in small batches in plenty of very hot vegetable oil until golden (turn them around often and watch they don't burn on you), or you can put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and cook into a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C (fan) for 10-15mins or until golden (turn them after 10 mins)

  • Serve very warm with cold sweet chili sauce and / or mayonnaise, and, if you like them, pickled cucumbers

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