Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Pepper Crab

3 to 4 mud crabs
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp white peppercorns
1 heaped tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp butter
light soya sauce
dark soya sauce
1 tsp sugar

Clean the crabs and then boil them for about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, grind black and white peppercorns in a food processor. When the crabs are cooked, remove them from the water and set aside to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, break the crabs apart and crack the shells with a pestle so it's easy for you to take them apart when you eat them.

Heat a wok and then add butter and some cooking oil (to stabilise the butter). Still, you have to be really quick as butter burns easily. Throw it the garlic and ground pepper and toss for a few seconds to release the aromas. Throw in the crabs and toss them in the wok so that they are evenly coated with the garlic and ground pepper. Add a few splashes of light soya sauce (to taste) and about 2 tsp of dark soya sauce. Then add the sugar. Fry for a further 30 - 40 seconds. Remove from the pan and serve.

Note: You have to be really brisk with the entire frying process because the butter and pepper tend to burn pretty quickly.

Crab & Saffron Tart

(Adapted from Nigella Lawson's How To Eat)

For the pastry
11/4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small dice
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice

Measure flour into a bowl, add the butter and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Beat the egg yolk with the salt and lemon juice and put it in the fridge. Keep a few tablespoons of ice water in a measuring cup or bowl in the fridge in case you need them too.

Put the flour and butter in a food processor with the metal blade fitted or in a mixer with the flat paddle on slow and turn on. After less than a minute, the mixture will begin to resemble oatmeal. This is when you add the egg yolk mixture. Add, and process or mix. If you need more liquid, add a little ice water, but go slowly and carefully; you need to stop just as the dough looks like it's about to clump, not once it has. When it looks right, take it out and form into a fat disc into a freezer bag or cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.

Roll out and bake blind at 400 degrees F (about 12 - 15 mins depending on your oven).

For the filling
1 can (4.5 ounces) plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 fat garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1/4 tsp salt, plus more
freshly milled black pepper
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp saffron threads
4 egg yolks
1/2 pound lump crab meat

Put tomatoes, garlic, herbs and salt and a few grindings of pepper in a saucepan and reduce to a thickish sauce. Cool, remove the herbs and spread the sauce in the bottom of the pastry shell. Warm 3 tbsp of the cream with the saffron and allow to steep for a few minutes. Beat egg yolks and the rest of the cream and then add the saffron cream to this. Correct the seasoning. Loosely fold in the crab meat and carefully pour into the tart shell. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until set and golden brown on top, but with a hint of a runny wobble within.