Soft shell crab. Three words pretty much guaranteed to elicit a hedonic response, particularly as I now live in an area where I can’t get hold of the little critters for love nor money. I find the only thing more satisfying than the crunch of tiny exoskeletons is slathering them with gingery blueberry ketchup and spring onion mayo…the whole crunchy, creamy mess cushioned in a nutty yet sturdy wholemeal roll. Bliss.
Not to be confused with their blue swimming brethren, I had to make a special trip to Chinatown and came home minus twenty quid. On the plus side, I now have a massive box of individually wrapped Thai beauties half of which have taken up residence in the freezer, ready for my next craving. Blueberry ketchup is incredible and even if you can’t be done with faffing about over seafood, I’d recommend my tangsome blue sauce to fulfil all manner of dunking needs; it’s smashing with egg and chips.
Back in January I signed a two book deal with the mighty Kyle publishing. The first of my cookbooks will be out early next year, and although I haven’t included this recipe, it’s a little taster of the kind of thing you can expect.
For the blueberry ketchup
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp. finely chopped ginger
1 fat garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. bottled tamarind sauce
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
- Heat the oil in a small saucepan and cook the onion until softened but not browned.Add in ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant.
- tip in the blueberries, tamarind, sugar, vinegar and salt and simmer over a low heat for about 30 minutes and until nicely thickened.
- Allow to cool, blend if you want a smooth texture and pour into a sterilised jar. Keeps happily in the fridge for a good fortnight.
For the soft shell crab
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. 5 spice powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. rice wine
100g rice flour
v.cold sparkling water
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 egg whites, beaten till frothy
1 heaped tsp. baking powder
8-10 soft-shell crabs
Rice flour for dusting the crabs
oil for deep frying
1 spring onion, finely chopped and mixed with 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
some token lettuce
- defrost the crabs. Combine the sesame oil, garlic, ginger, five spice powder, salt and rice wine and carefully marinade the crab (they’re pretty fragile) for a few hours in this mixture in the fridge. I managed to wait for about 6 hours.
- Mix the cornflour and rice flour, salt, garlic powder and baking powder. Gradually add enough sparkling water until it reaches the consistency of double cream. Fold in the soy sauce and egg whites.
- Have a plate ready with more rice flour and heat the oil in a wok. When you’re ready to deep fry, dust the crabs in the rice flour then dunk in the batter, coating well.
- Fry two at a time to golden perfection (they tend to spatter a lot so take care). Drain on kitchen paper before sandwiching in a roll with a hefty spoonful of blueberry ketchup, lettuce and a smear of spring onion mayonnaise.