I was born and raised in Cromer and, for a few years, regularly went out to sea from the town to fish for crab and lobster – so cooking with crab is second nature to me.
Each year I’m overjoyed (no exaggeration) when the crab season starts and I make sure I stock up the freezer with crustacea to last me between trips back to north Norfolk.
The Cromer crab is such an iconic food – they are the sweetest crabs in the country – some say this is because of the chalky habitat they live in – and, as I understand it, they are also the smallest crabs that can be legally landed in the country – they have to be at least 115mm across the breadth of the shell.
I have a selection of go-to recipes that I use crab for and many of them have been adapted so they use both the white and the brown meat. Many crab recipes only use the white meat which, to me, always seems a shame as the brown meat is so flavoursome. I know there are times when only the white meat will do but I try and incorporate the brown meat where I can.
I make sure that each year I always try new recipes but the reliable crab dishes I regularly cook include:
- Crab cakes with mango salsa or cucumber pickle
- Crab, tomato and fennel pasta
- Crab ravioli
- …and most importantly crab sandwiches
A much as I enjoy cooking with crab it’s difficult, in my opinion, to beat a crab sandwich – but, it has to be made in a certain way.
- Each sandwich should contain one medium crab (I always use a £4 one) – it does sound indulgent but it’s a treat and still cheaper than eating out and you get a whole lot of crab sandwich!
- Mix the white and brown meat together in a bowl
- Butter two slices of bread from a seeded Norfolk Crunch loaf (I get mine from Dudley’s bakery in Cromer) or any other seeded loaf
- Fill with the crab
- …and that’s it!
Many people add a selection of salt, pepper, lemon juice and vinegar but I tend to think that in a sandwich the crab is at it’s best just as it is. After a lot of research I’ve also discovered that it goes very well with a crisp pint of Woodforde’s Wherry!
I’d love to hear what your favourite crab dish is – do let me know.
In the last week I’ve cooked a classic crab dish that always goes down well in our house – crab ravioli. If you fancy giving it a go, here is the recipe…
Cromer crab ravioli
- 300 g 00 flour
- 2 large free-range eggs + 1 additional yolk
- Salt pinch
- Splash of water if needed
For the filling
- 60 g Granny Smith apple diced
- 60 g cucumber diced
- 2 x Cromer crabs mid size using both white and brown meat
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 10 g chives finely chopped
- 12 spring onions
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- sea salt
For the dressing
- 200 ml apple juice
- 50 ml rapeseed oil
- 1 tsp nigella seeds toasted
- lemon juice
Make the pasta dough by mixing the flour, eggs and salt together. Add a splash of water or a pinch of flour if needed and then rest for about one hour.
For the filling, sprinkle salt over the apple and cucumber with salt and set aside for half an hour. Then squeeze out the excess liquid.
For the dressing, heat the apple juice in a pan and reduce it down to a light syrup. Whisk in the rapeseed oil, nigella seeds and lemon juice to taste – set aside.
Mix together the crab, lemon zest, chives, apple and cucumber. Season well and set aside in the fridge.
Roll the pasta through a pasta machine using each grade from 5 to 1. Cut out 56 discs of pasta with a square cutter (I use a 6.5cm one).
Place a small pile of the crab filling in the middle of 28 discs.
Brush the edge of each filled disc with water and place the other 28 discs on top to form the lids. Press down and then use a fork to crimp the sides together.
Put two pans of salted water on the heat and bring to the boil.
Heat a dry frying pan and brush the spring onions with a little oil and season with salt. Add to the pan to colour and steam until slightly coloured.
Add the ravioli to the pans and boil for 2-3 minutes until cooked through.
Remove from the water and drain. Add to a bowl, season with salt, place the spring onions on top and pour over the dressing.