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ISSUE 21 ARCHIVE - COOKING THE CATCH: POTTED CRAB WITH BROWN SHRIMP BUTTER

Andrew Maxwell

I’ve had a somewhat busy time over the last year as we’ve just moved the cookery school I run, (Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Woking) into a new, state-of-the-art premises with a fabulous new restaurant about to open alongside the school...

It has been a lot of hard work and this afternoon, I grew so frustrated with the staff and students pestering me with petty requests that they would have perfectly easily resolved themselves in my absence, that I made myself absent... headed home to crack on with some work in peace and promptly settled down onto the sofa with a cup of tea and a magazine... So much for having a productive afternoon.

Actually, technically it was work... I was reading the January edition of Restaurant magazine and an interesting article about one of the predicted trends for 2015: the growth of the ‘lobster and burger’ restaurant market.

I love a lobster – funny little things really as they never seem to actually do much – other than cower in crevices and pretend to look menacing with those claws... but damn they taste good... except for the ones they sell in ‘lobster and burger’ joints. It takes real skill (not) to take something so utterly delicious and convert it into something which resembles the texture and flavour of the sole of a shoe. Never in my life have I tasted such a horror as the half lobster tail that accompanied a burger for £20.

This is neither a meal nor a deal. It is a tragedy and the most worrying thing is that it is so bloody popular that I give the lobster species a couple of years, tops, before we start seeing them hit dangerously low numbers... Lobsters are not for ‘fast food’ or the ‘casual dining market.’ They should be treated with respect.

So, with respect to lobsters, here’s a bloody delicious crab recipe!

Potted Crab with Brown Shrimp Butter

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 1⁄4 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1⁄4 tsp ground mace
  • 1⁄2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 anchovy fillet, chopped to a paste
  • 3 tbsp dry sherry
  • 400g white crab meat
  • 100g brown crab meat
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice of half
  • 100g brown shrimp

Beer Bread

  • 454g Stoneground wholemeal flour
  • 1tbsp baking powder
  • 1⁄2tsp salt
  • 1tsp clear honey
  • 350ml full flavoured beer e.g. Old Peculiar or Guinness

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4; 180oC. Oil a 900g loaf tin.

  1. For the bread, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the honey and beer to make a heavy wet dough.
  2. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.
  3. For the potted crab, melt 100g of the butter in a saucepan and add the shallots, sweat for 6-8 minutes until the shallots have softened without colouring.
  4. Stir in the spices, chopped anchovy and sherry. Cook until the alcohol has evaporated.
  5. Divide the mixture between 6-8 small ramekins and carefully level the tops.
  6. Melt the remaining 100g of butter in the same pan and stir in the brown shrimps. Taste and adjust the seasoning, you may wish to add a little lemon juice. Spoon over the crab, dividing equally between the ramekins. Chill to set.
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