Sunday, 27 March 2011

Crustacean Celebration......

There are some foods which just scream spring to me. Crab is one of them. There's nothing like that first crab sandwich of the year. Thick white bread with yellow mayonnaise spread across it and just a dusting of sea salt. Although the last week has seen everyone in Cornwall raiding their cupboards for flip flops the evenings are still biting cold and a sandwich won't cut the mustard.

Arty Williams at The Cove made us a crab soup at his Spring Feast Fortnight Fish Masterclass. It was garlicky and hot with lumps of sweet crab and lobster. He swirled a brown crab brandy cream on the top and floated a fish mousse dumpling in the middle but that is a step to far for my cooking abilities. Anyway the healthy broth alone will make those springtime shorts a little more bearable!

Crab Soup (serves 6-8)

200g white crab meat (Arty picked his. I cheated as I had some already.)
olive oil
1 onion
1 carrot
1 celery
1 leek
1 fennel
1 parsnip
1 potato
1 bulb of garlic
4 tomatoes blanched and de-seeded
1 chilli
a handful of mixed herbs

For the stock:

2 crab shells (I simply went to the fishmongers and asked for some shells. They were happy to give me a bag full. Thanks to Seabourne Fish in Penryn.)
1 carrot
a quarter of a white cabbage
2 stalks broccoli
half a red onion
(I don't think it matters what vegetables you use- as long as they don't fall apart- but I'd put onion in there whatever the combination)

First make the stock. Preheat the oven to 180'c and roast the crab shells for about 10-15 minutes. Pop them in a large pan (mine wasn't big enough!) and pour enough cold water just to cover them. Add the vegetables and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes (making sure you skim off any scum).
Drain through a colander and then through a sieve. Set aside. Discard the shells and vegetables.

Chop the garlic bulb in half horizontally and brush with oil. Pop in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until the garlic is soft.

Chop all the vegetables into small pieces. In a really large pan on a low heat fry all the vegetables except the potato and tomato. Let it fry for about 15 minutes making sure it doesn't catch.

(This photo is just to show you the stock- it makes a lot more than this!) Pop the garlic cloves out of their shells and mash with the back of a knife. Add to the vegetables.

Add the potato and continue to fry until the potato is soft enough to eat. Pour the stock in and cook through. Add the crab and tomato and let it warm through then add the herbs and serve.

Take part in Cornwall Spring Feast Fortnight by clicking here. You can eat out at some of Cornwall's best restaurants for fantastic prices. There are also various courses- like The Coves'- to take part in.

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