Of all the foods available to us today, I have to admit
one of my all-time favourites is crab. Succulent and sweet,
crab is one of life's simple pleasures and an absolute treat,
especially if you are not the one who's doing the picking.
While New Zealand may not boast giant crabs like those found
elsewhere in the world, our humble paddle crab is fairly
common along our coasts and its flesh is exceptionally sweet.
As a child, I often went crabbing in rock pools for fun. At
the time, I didn't realise that, just a little further off
shore, there were masses of paddle crabs, perfect for eating.
It was only years later after returning home from overseas,
when I saw some local lads pulling in a good feed in the
Oamaru Harbour I finally twigged and, after asking around, I
discovered we have good-eating crabs commercially harvested
right here in the South and throughout many other parts of
Picking the meat from cooked crabs is not everyone's idea of
fun, and it puts a lot of people off but if you can find
them, they are usually cheap to buy and all you need is a
little effort to get to that wonderful meat.
Fresh crab needs very little to let it shine.
Simply bound with homemade mayonnaise and herbs and served on
fresh bread, crab is just sublime.
Gazpacho soup topped with a little crab is a great way to
cool down as the weather heats up, and for a truly fantastic
meal crab and fennel risotto is hard to beat.
So, if you haven't thought about crab recently, think again.
Get out there and go crabbing or simply talk to your local
fishmonger because crab is one of life's inexpensive luxuries
and all you need to do is get picking
Crab and fennel
Photos by Fiona
30ml olive oil
½ red onion, finely chopped
Centre of 1 bunch celery, finely chopped
2 medium or 1 large fennel bulb, finely shaved
250g risotto rice
80ml Noilly Prat vermouth or 150ml dry white wine
500ml chicken or vegetable stock, heated and lightly
Crab meat picked from 6 large paddle crabs
40g parmesan, shaved
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup parsley, chopped
¼ cup fennel leaf, chopped
Salt and pepper
1½ cups baby rocket leaves (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil
Heat olive oil and half the butter in a heavy-based saucepan
over a medium heat. Add vegetables and sweat without colour
until soft and translucent, stirring often. Add risotto rice
and cook for 1 minute before adding Nolly Prat. Continue to
stir frequently and once rice has absorbed the alcohol, add
warm stock, in small amounts, stirring between each addition.
After 10 to 15 minutes, test rice by biting into a few
grains. When it has almost lost its crunch it is nearly
ready. Fold in crab meat, remaining butter, half the
parmesan, lemon juice and herbs and season to taste. Risotto
should be fairly wet with the rice coated in the liquor. Add
a little more stock if necessary. Divide between 4 plates and
top with remaining parmesan and rocket. Drizzle with extra
virgin olive oil and serve immediately.
Wine: Lightly oaked chardonnay.
Gazpacho with paddle
4 large ripe tomatoes
4 red capsicums, core and seeds removed
1 telegraph cucumber
½ small red onion, peeled
1 clove garlic, peeled
100ml extra virgin olive oil
75ml good quality red wine
1 tsp sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Crab meat picked from 4-5 large paddle crabs
¼ cup chives, finely chopped
To make gazpacho, roughly chop vegetables and blend in a food
processor until as smooth as possible. Pass through a coarse
sieve or mouli, add olive oil and vinegar and mix well.
Season to taste with a little salt and pepper.
Place gazpacho into a stainless bowl and chill completely,
either in a refrigerator or over ice. Once chilled, divide
soup between four bowls and scatter with fresh-picked paddle
crab and chives. Finish with a little extra olive oil if
Wine: Light rosé
Crab mayonnaise with sourdough, salad
greens and lemon
300g fresh picked crab meat
3 Tbsp fresh mayonnaise
Quarter cup chives, finely chopped
Quarter cup parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fennel herb, finely chopped
1 cup parsley, picked and washed
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup rocket
Quarter small red onion, finely sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 cup cabbage, shaved (optional)
1 lemon, cut into quarters
2 Tbsp lemon dressing
4 slices sourdough
2 free-range egg yolks
¼ clove garlic, peeled
2 tsp Dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
400ml canola oil
100ml olive oil
Salt and pepper
Makes 1 cup
Juice of half a lemon
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup canola oil
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 pinches of sea salt
1 pinch black pepper
Place picked crab meat in a stainless steel bowl with
mayonnaise, chives, parsley and fennel. Lightly mix together
and season to taste with a little salt and pepper. Divide
between 4 plates. In a separate bowl, toss together remaining
salad ingredients with lemon dressing.
Serve salad on the side with sourdough and lemon wedges.
Place egg yolks, mustard, garlic and lemon juice into a food
processor and blend. Whilst blending, slowly add canola oil
and then olive oil until a thick mayonnaise is formed. Season
to taste and adjust with a little hot water to thin if
necessary. Keeps in the refrigerator for a week.
Place all ingredients into a bowl and whisk together. Store
in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
Wine: Pinot grigio.
• Bevan and Monique Smith own the multi-award winning
Riverstone Kitchen, just south of the Waitaki bridge in North
Otago. Bevan is also author of Riverstone Kitchen: recipes
from a chef's garden and Riverstone Kitchen