- 100g picked white crabmeat (see step-by-step to prepare a fresh crab)
- ½ red chilli, finely chopped
- 6 drops of Tabasco
- juice 1 lime
The same shape, but smaller than…
- 1 tbsp snipped chives
- 1 small fennel bulb with fronds
Like Marmite, fennel is something that you either love or hate - its strong aniseed flavour…
- ½ small loaf of rustic wholemeal bread, unsliced
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 very ripe avocado
Although it's technically a fruit, the mild-flavoured avocado is used as a vegetable. Native…
- large knob of butter
Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…
- 175g watermelon, cut into small cubes
Thought to have originated in Africa, watermelons are distinct from musk melons such as…
- 175g cantaloupe melon, diced into 1cm cubes
- 1 preserved lemon, very finely diced
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Mix the crabmeat with the chilli, a few drops of Tabasco, half the lime juice and the chives, to taste. Reserve any fennel fronds and set aside. Use a mandolin or a very sharp knife to thinly slice the fennel, then place in a bowl of cold water with a few ice cubes in it.
Cut the bread into wafer-thin slices and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with a little oil and bake for 2-3 mins or until crisp. Blitz the avocado in the small bowl of a food processor until smooth. Add a few drops of Tabasco, the rest of the lime juice and some seasoning, and blitz again.
Melt the butter in a frying pan and, once foaming, add the cubes of melon. Cook gently for 2-3 mins until warmed through and slightly softened. Set aside to cool a little. Drain the fennel and mix with the preserved lemon, oil, lemon juice and some seasoning.
To serve, transfer the avocado cream to a piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe swirls onto the plates. Divide the fennel slices between the plates, arranging them in a line. Top with the crab mixture and poke three or four bread wafers in at intervals, so that they stand up. Top with the reserved fennel fronds, then scatter the melon around the plates.
Buying a crab
Whether it’s cooked or live, choose a crab that feels heavy for its size and smells fresh. If it’s alive, make sure it looks fairly active. Crabs are best cooked immediately after killing, so ask your fishmonger to kill the crab, then take it home and cook it as soon as you can. Never buy a dead uncooked crab, as you don’t know when it was killed and it may no longer be safe to eat.
How to cook a crab
Bring a large pan of well-salted water to the boil. Lower in the crab, simmer for 12 mins per kg, then leave to cool a little in the liquid. Transfer to a tray, place in the fridge and leave to cool completely.
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- Step 1Take off the claws and legs
Lay the crab on its back, twist off the claws and legs, and set aside.
- Step 2Separate the shell from the body
Use the palm of your hand to push down on the crab. Get your fingers between the gap where the body meets the shell and pull upwards.
- Step 3Separate the shell from the body
Pulling quite hard, completely separate the crab body from the shell – it will come off in one piece.
- Step 4Remove the gills
Pull away and discard the feathery gills (also known as dead man’s fingers) – these are found around the main body and inside the shell.
- Step 5Scoop out the brown meat
Use a spoon to scoop out the brown meat from the shell and transfer it to a bowl.
- Step 6Halve the body
Use a large knife to cut the main body in half.
- Step 7Pick out the white meat
Using a lobster pick or skewer, pick the white meat out of the cavities in the body and put in a separate bowl. It’s worth taking your time to do this, as there is a surprising amount of meat in all the small crevices.
- Step 8Crack the claws
Crack the claws and legs using a heavy object like a hammer, kitchen mallet, knife sharpening steel or rolling pin. Try to break them with one sharp tap – you don’t want the shell to shatter into very small pieces as they will be difficult to find.
- Step 9Remove the meat
Carefully remove the meat using a lobster pick or teaspoon. Discard the cartilage in the middle of the claws and legs. Add the meat to the bowl of white meat, then check the bowl for stray shell by shaking it from time to time – shell fragments ‘ping’ against the side of the bowl and can be removed.