Thursday, August 26, 2010

Feeling crabby?!?

One of Mr. Vanilla's all-time favourite meals is fresh crab, so since it had been a while, off we headed on Saturday to buy two rather large crabs. The fishmonger killed and cleaned the crabs for us satisfying both of our dislikes….mine being the fact that I just can’t put live crabs into a boiling pot of water (not necessarily because of the killing aspect, more so because I have a real dislike of live crabs) and Mr. Vanilla's strong dislike to cooking the crabs with “all of the gross processing parts still inside of them” (I know!!). Anyway, needs met and crabs freshly killed, cleaned and packed in a large bag of ice we went straight home eagerly awaiting our evening feast.

So why the dislike to live crabs when obviously I am perfectly happy to eat them? Well I have to say it is due 100 percent to the fact that when I was 10 I had a rather unfortunate encounter with a very feisty crab. I was on holiday with my best friend and her family in Tayvallich, a small fishing village on the West coast of Scotland. One particular day we went out on her dad’s small boat where we stopped at a beautiful bay for a swim and picnic. (I remember Susie telling me the bay was called Jellyfish Bay….I’m not sure now if that is what it is actually called or that was a name her family came up with due to the hundreds of jelly fish you glided over on the way there!) We docked on the sandy beach and our life jackets were thrown off with complete abandonment as we ran into the icy cold water and swam and splashed and practised one handed handstands while holding our noses with the other hand! Just as we were getting ready to come out I was wading towards the shore when I spotted something very large and orange to the side of me. I stopped dead in my tracks so I could have a proper look and got the fright of my life when I saw this giant crab scuttling towards me at an alarming rate! I tried to get away….first by running in the water (yeah right!) then by trying to jump up and get my feet away from those twitching razor sharp claws….try as I might, nothing was working and my panic induced escape plan failed miserably….the feisty crab was on a mission and nothing was going to stop it until it snapped its giant claws around my foot. My yelp of pain signified its victory as it clamped onto my heel slowly turning the cool, clear water red with blood. That was twenty one years go so as you can see I never really did get over my crab attack and I am still hesitant around the evil little things! Too bad it didn’t stop me from liking to eat them though!

When it comes to eating crabs, I have to admit there is something very satisfying about having to work to get your food. While some people might find cracking the shells and picking out the glorious meat too much work, I really enjoy it – I think it makes you appreciate your rewards even more. It is messy but it is good! I also find there are two kinds of people when it comes to eating crab….those that eat it as soon as they have pried the meat from the shell (Mr. Vanilla) and then there are those that stockpile…working hard to create a nice big pile of crabmeat that can then be devoured without any interruptions (me). Regardless of how you do it, if you have never eaten fresh crab before you have to try it….more work than a lobster, but for me anyway, a sweeter, richer taste. Decide for yourself….

Steamed Crab with a Trio of Dipping Sauces

The sauces will make plenty but it’s better to have too much than too little! It also just depends how much butter or aioli you like to dunk your crab into. These sauces are definitely not for the calorie conscious but if you would prefer a healthier alternative nothing beats just a good spritz of lemon juice.

2 large crabs, killed & cleaned (ours were roughly 2lbs each)
Lemon wedges to serve

To cook the crabs I just steamed them (using only water) for 15 minutes in a large pan (since they were already cut in half, 15 minutes was perfect). If you prefer though, you can boil them for 15 - 20 minutes instead. When the crabs are ready remove from the pan and leave to cool for a couple of minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and the dipping sauces, and don’t forget a bowl for throwing the shells into!

Garlic Butter:
115g/ 4oz unsalted butter
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
Squeeze of lemon juice
Small pinch of salt & pepper

Melt the butter in a small pan along with the garlic. Squeeze in a little lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Keep warm (and melted!) until ready to dip.

Chilli, lime & ginger butter:
115g/ 4oz unsalted butter
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
½ tsp fresh ginger, grated
Zest & juice of ½ lime
Pinch of salt & pepper

Melt the butter in a small pan along with the garlic, chill, ginger and lime zest. Squeeze in the lime juice and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Keep warm (and melted!) until ready to dip.

Cheat’s Aioli:

I make this cheat’s aioli for so many different things – I absolutely love it. Even better, it only takes 30 seconds to make.

125ml mayonnaise
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Squeeze of lemon juice
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Freshly grated black pepper

Simply mix everything together in a small bowl – easy but so good!

As delicious as eating a whole steamed crab is, being the carbivore that I am, my favourite way to eat fresh crab is tossed through hot linguine with some garlic, chilli, lemon and olive oil. Original….no, but classic and delicious – yes! Luckily for us, I only ate half of my crab on Saturday so on Monday night I used the rest of it to have it my favourite way – Linguine with crab.

Linguine with Crab & Pea Shoots

I used pea shoots for a change as I had a box of them in the fridge and I have to say I will be using them from now on! They are so delicious and the subtle taste of fresh peas compliments the crab perfectly. Another quintessential summer dish!

Serves 2 (easily doubled)

200g/ 7oz linguine
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
115g/ 4oz fresh crab meat (that was all that I had left but you could easily use more if you have it!)
Juice of ½ large lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
30g/ 1oz pea shoots – or you can use rocket (arugula) or watercress (optional)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling, salted water, according to the packet instructions. While the pasta is cooking, in a small bowl mix together the garlic, chilli, crab, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Just before you drain the cooked pasta add 2 tablespoons of the water to your crab mixture – this just loosens the sauce slightly and helps it stick to the linguine.

Drain the pasta then return it to the pan you cooked it in. Toss through the crab mixture then at the last minute add the pea shoots reserving a few for garnish. Serve at once with the reserved pea shoots scattered on top and a final drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...