Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Casquinha de siri, a creamy crab cake on a shell

When I was a teenager growing up in Guaranésia, this tiny little town lost in the mountains of Minas Gerais State, there was only one restaurant in the city: Churrascaria do Régis. Régis was also the owner of the city’s main Hotel (there were only two), and the father of one of my classmates. My friends and I use to gather outside the Churrascaria on the weekends to chat, sing along, watch the other teens pass by and all. Every now and then, one of us would go inside and buy an ice cream, or a bottle of soda. But my dream was to go sit there, like a grown up, and order a casquinha de siri, this fancy looking appetizer served on a real shell and made with an ingredient I’d never had before: crab (there’s no ocean in Minas, salt water fish and shellfish were thus a rarity there).

When I finally tried it out for the first time, I was so excited about the occasion, about just being there, sitting inside the place and being able to pay for it that I basically ignored the fact that the casquinha barely had any crab in it. It was a gluey mix of tomato sauce and lots of bread and farinha de mandioca, and parmesan cheese on top (which, I think, is a crime against the crab!). These faults I observed in many casquinhas I had afterwards. But once you have a good one, you keep dreaming about when you’re going to have the next one! So, here’s a recipe that is as “crabby” (in a good sense) as it can be! I hope you enjoy eating it and maybe reviving that magic moment I had when I first had it.

Bom apetite!

Casquinha de siri

Yield: about 12 casquinhas (aprox. 3,5 in diameter shells)

8 oz crab meat, picked over for shells
1 slice (~1 oz) white bread, no crust
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp minced green bell pepper, or jalapeño
1/2 cup seeded, finely chopped tomato
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 Tbsp dendê oil
1/3 cup farinha de mandioca (manioc / yucca flour - see picture)
1 green onion, finely sliced
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley
salt and pepper to taste
hot pepper sauce to taste
lemon wedges to serve
lettuce cups or shredded lettuce to serve

- Soak torn bread in coconut milk for about 1 hour.
- Sauté onion and bell pepper or jalapeño in dendê oil until soft.
- Add tomato and sauté until it begins to release liquid and form a sauce. Add crab meat.- Stir in soaked bread with coconut milk and about 1 Tbsp of farinha de mandioca
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly but slowly, until thickened. Add more farinha, if needed (mixture should be thick enough to hold its shape when mounded into shells, but not too firm!).
- Add herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spoon mixture into 12 medium-sized shells (aprox. 3.5 in diameter), mounding it a little above the rim.
- Sprinkle top generously with remaining farinha de mandioca and bake at 375oF until golden brown.
- Serve on a lettuce cup or over shredded lettuce, garnished with a lime wedge and provide extra hot pepper sauce at the table.

1) You can freeze the casquinhas before baking them. When ready to use, transfer them to the fridge one day ahead to thaw. Bake until golden brown and heated through right before serving.
2) If you cannot find farinha de mandioca, use plain bread crumbs.
3) If you don't have the shells, or if you want to serve them as a party snack, place the baked mixture on squares of banana leaf and decorate with a pimenta-biquinho (kiss pepper), if available (see picture).


  1. Really yummy! Gonna try it! I love casquinhas de siri and you're right: most of them barely have any crab!!!

  2. Hi Stella! Thanks for the comment :o)
    Let me know how your "casquinhas" came out!

  3. I am delighted to have discovered your blog. Here in Trinidad crab cakes like these are quite popular and are usually served in the crab back shells.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I've seen them served on a crab shell too, but those are harder to find... Do you season them the same way too? Now I'm curious to try the Trinidad version!

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Love it.. Will try it next time I am in the states and needing a little Brazilian food!! sounds delicious!

    1. Thanks, Dave! I had a look at your blog - OMG, I miss those foods so much... Pequi, linguiça, arroz-feijão, or just being at a fazenda, disconnected from the busy world, and just connected to myself and the people around me.

  6. Wonderful learning guys I’m a fan of your website.
    chefs clothing

  7. Love this!! Will definitely use your blog to prepare some classes!
    Marcelo Baronheid

  8. Elisa, descobri vc sem querer, através do blog de Virginia Costa. Sou muito grato por saber que com a folha de bananeira pode-se ir alem. Atualmente forneço folhas de bananeira frescas e embaladas aqui no Brasil, para a alta gastronomia. Inúmeros chefs querem novidades para o dia-a-dia, e sem duvida essa sua casquinha de siri é o must. Vi tambem que vc é seguidora de Neide Rigo, grande amiga, que indiretamente tem me ajudado muito. Estando no Brasil, me procure quando precisar ( e não deixe de visitar meu site Parabéns pela brilhante carreira.

    1. Enio, muitissimo obrigada por sua mensagem elogiosa e informativa! Eu amo folha de bananeira e tem muitas outras receitas que me vêm à cabeça que poderiam entrar pra sua lista de preparações usando este ingrediente tão brasileiro, tão tropical.
      Estou em meio a um congresso no momento, mas espero poder te escrever com calma mais para frente.
      Grande abraço e sucesso!
      ps - Sou muuuito fã da Neide Rigo e adoraria conhecê-la ou pelo menos fazer um contato direto com ela. O site dela é a jóia da culinária de raiz brasileira!