There's a crab in my kitchen!

Sunday 16 October 2011

As impulse buys go, a live crab is probably going to be one of my more random purchases...

Walking through Brixton market I spotted a big brown crab crawling around on top of ice and thought 'I have to have that'. On the walk home - which involved a very much alive crab, with no ties round its claws, trying to break out of a flimsy blue carrier bag - I started to ponder about what I was going to do with this beast.

The simple solution would be to boil it and serve it with lashings of warm butter. But I am going through a 'fennel phase' at the moment so dug out a French recipe for crab, fennel and orange soup from the fish master Rick Stein. This recipe is traditionally made with spider crab - but these seem to be in short supply in London Town - so a brown crab had to suffice.

Now, before I could make the soup, the crab had to be dispatched. I know I should have done this myself, and honestly I was planning to - I even googled 'how to kill a crab'. But having to drive a screwdriver through a living creature was always going to be a job for my husband (aka crab slayer) if I'm honest. Dropping a live crab into boiling water could - for some - seem more preferable than stabbing a moving, wriggling beast to death, but it's really not the most humane way (you also get really tough meat and will find that the crab will shed its legs and claws).You can find a great overview of how to kill a crab humanely here (it basically involves turning it upside down and piercing quickly in the hole under the tail flap).

Once dispatched,my crab was boiled for 20 minutes in salted water, left to cool and then picked apart to get the white and brown meat. Mental note... in the future, I will only ever bother buying picked crab and whole crab claws... picking meat from the cavity of a crab body is fiddly and overrated.

Making the soup involved boiling up the crab shell (I chucked in the claws and legs too) with fennel and leek trimmings for half an hour to make a stock. In a separate pan, I sauteed leeks and fennel with crushed fennel seeds, dried chilli, orange peel and 1/2 a teaspoon of tomato puree. I then added Pernod and set alight to burn off the alcohol. The stock was then added along with the juice of an orange and a pinch of saffron.

Finally the crab meat and a peeled, deseeded chopped tomato was mixed in.

I'm not sure I'll be buying a live crab again - it was pretty traumatic hearing it moving around in the fridge - but the resulting soup is fragrant and delicate and did my crab justice...

1 comment:

Eke said...

hahah! The photos are lovely!

Now on to lobster??

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