Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Crab with marinated raw sprouts, sprout flowers and parsley
Where has all of the time gone? Work was a hectic flurry of oysters, lobsters and smoked salmon before Christmas, then a well-earned break spent catching up with family and attending a lovely wedding up north. Then there has been trying to get to grips with the exciting yet mega stressful house build project that Katie and I are currently undertaking, all punctuated by an unpleasant and hugely boring bout of cold and flu, which I’ve been trying to shake off for what feels like forever. All of those days branded ‘update blog’ on my to-do list seemed to nestle into distractions, and somehow it’s now the middle of January. How!? Anyway, finally I have managed to turn back to these pages and write another recipe. I’m really determined to not let things slip too much with this blog, and I’m really looking forward to another year of cookery exploration.
Now that Christmas is over, everyone seems to have forgotten about Brussels sprouts. Some with true relief, and others because the only place for a sprout is beside a golden, shimmering and utterly bone dry turkey. Well not me. I’m happy they still reside in constant stock at my local greengrocers. And there’s so much more to sprouts than Christmas lunch, they work a treat in this recipe.
I really hate eating salads in January. Not because I hate salads, but because it makes me feel like I’m conceding to the masses of hysterical New Year detox bullshit that’s everywhere right now. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to eat healthily, and there’s nothing wrong with dieting sensibly, but recently it all seems to have gone way out of control. Guilt has always been a massive force in food and marketing, but now you’re frowned upon unless your chocolate cake is made from some sort of weird cashew and date concoction, And don’t even think about eating it if it contains the merest mention of white flour. Ugh. It’s all so draining. Although I’ve always been happy with a balanced diet, which could involve a broth one evening and a cheese-filled hamburger the next, I worry about the confusing, dangerous signals that all of this gives to less confident eaters. It’s time that food and food writing was about celebrating ingredients again, not about banishing them from our diets.
So yes, a salad. But the focus of this salad is some very special crabmeat. There are few things in cooking greater than boiling up a whole crab, before meticulously picking every last scrap of meat from the still warm shell, ideally surrounded by piles of bread and mayonnaise. But I appreciate that some don’t have the time and space, and that it might not be appropriate for the moderately squeamish. Failing that, there are some excellent hand-picked, unpasteurised crab products available, that allow this little plateful to be prepared in a matter of moments. The bright, fresh shellfish contrasts with the bitter sprouts wonderfully, with dinky capers and fiery chilli flakes adding a welcome kick along the way.
For the white crabmeat:
250g unpasteurised white crabmeat
A squeeze of lemon juice
For the brown crabmeat:
100g brown crabmeat
½ a teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 lemon, zest and juice
4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the sprout salad:
1 handful of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and finely sliced
1 handful of sprout flowers, leaves peeled 1 large bunch of parsley
½ a small clove of garlic
1 tbsp capers
1 pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 lemon, zest and juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Tip the brown crabmeat into a food processor and add the mustard, lemon zest and a good pinch of seasoning. Blitz until well combined. With the engine still running, slowly pour in the olive oil, until the mixture is light and emulsified. Stir in the lemon juice and taste for seasoning.
Make the dressing for the greens by combining the lemon zest and juice, capers, grated garlic, dried chilli flakes and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil.
Put the sliced sprouts, sprout flower leaves and roughly torn parsley into a large bowl and toss evenly with the dressing.
Squeeze the lemon juice over the white crabmeat and taste. Add salt and pepper if necessary.
Spoon a good dollop of the brown crabmeat onto each plate and arrange a pile of the white meat next to it. Scatter some of the dressed salad to the side and serve.