Thursday, June 14, 2012

potted crab or instant noodles?

When the sun shines, so does the desire to be close to the water, and by beautiful default closer and fresher to some of our most wonderful food supplies. This is a great prepare-ahead dish that you can simply take out of the fridge half an hour before serving. If preparing in advance, make sure the crab meat is completely covered with the butter mixture, and keep the pots well chilled for up to two days. Fancy it up with a bit of sliced avocado, green apple, some green leaves and a rip of bread and all is good in the world.

If this all sounds too perfect and the beach is either too far away or your needs to be beside the seaside isn't great enough then a 3.30am cup of instant noodles with extra shio konbu thrown is easily an acceptable substitution. Close your eyes and hold a seashell to your ear, everything will be just all right again.

Serves 4 on a sunny day  

2 dressed crab (or 300g white and brown crab meat)
1 banana shallot (or 2 regular ones), peeled and finely chopped
4 tblsp sherry
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
175g cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
Squeeze of lemon juice, according to taste
Handful of chives, finely chopped
Run your fingers through the crab meat to pick out any remaining bits of shell and cartilage. Wrap with cling film and chill.
Put the shallot, sherry, cayenne pepper and nutmeg in a small saucepan.

Season well. Bring to the boil and let it bubble vigorously for about 2 minutes until the liquid has reduced to half.

Turn the heat to low and gradually whisk in the butter, a few cubes at a time. Leave it to simmer very gently for a few minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and let the flavours infuse as the butter cools.

Pour the butter mixture into a fine sieve set over a measuring jug and press down to extract the juice from the shallots. Discard the solids.

Mix the crab meat with the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture into four individual pots of some description, each about 6cm wide. Place the pots on a tray and pour the butter mixture over the crab meat to cover. Cover them with a large piece of cling film and chill for about 2-3 hours until set.

Remove the potted crab from the fridge 30 minutes before serving with anything from the suggestions above in addition to buttered brown toasts, lemon wedges, chopped chives and a large glass of something very cold.

Those noodles on the other hand need nothing more than a generous imagination, 

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