Potted Crab with Blood Orange and Pickled Fennel Salad and Brown Crab Sticks
This is my take on the crab stick. It's slightly different to the luminous bright pink sticks that are touted at the seaside as a fish-related product despite never having come into contact with a crab. I use brown crab meat and puff pastry to create a crisp tasty accompaniment to the potted crab, which can also make a great canapé on its own.
1. You will need some small ramekins or jars to pot the crab. Peel and finely chop the shallots, zest and juice 1 lemon, and place both into a saucepan with 200g butter. Cook on a low heat until the shallots become soft, for about 10-15 minutes.
2. Chop a handful of fresh dill, and place the white and the brown crab in a bowl with the dill. Add the softened shallots and butter, mix and season to taste with salt and some cayenne pepper. Divide the mix between your serving pots, finishing about 1cm from the rim. Melt the remaining butter and spoon over the crab mix to seal, adding a pinch of cayenne on top of each pot. Place the pots in the fridge to set: this can be done well in advance.
3. To pickle the fennel, halve and finely slice the fennel and place in a bowl. Bring the vinegar, sugar, peppercorns and fennel seeds up to the boil and pour into the bowl with the fennel, then leave to cool.
4. To make the brown crab sticks, mix the brown crab meat with the breadcrumbs, a squeeze of lemon and some chopped dill. Season the mix with some cayenne pepper and a little salt, place in a piping bag with a fine plain nozzle and refrigerate.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 160°c/gas mark 3.
6. Roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle and cut in half lengthways, pipe 3-4 lines of the brown crab mix evenly down 1 piece of the pastry. Brush in between the crab with beaten egg and sprinkle some chopped dill evenly over the crab and pastry. Place the other sheet of pastry on top over the crab mix, and carefully seal, brush with egg and cover with the sesame seeds, then place on a baking tray and put in the freezer. When semi-frozen take from the freezer and cut across the crab into thin sticks about 1cm thick. Lay on a non-stick baking tray and bake in the oven at 160°c/gas mark 3 for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave on the tray to cool.
7. To make the salad, drain the fennel from the vinegar and place in a bowl. Peel and segment the blood orange and add to the bowl making sure to squeeze any excess juice from the orange peel.
8. Remove the crab from the fridge about 30 minutes before you want to serve. Serve each pot with salad, dressed with a few of the mixed baby leaves, and a crab stick. Sprinkle a little fennel pollen onto each plate to give a fantastic aromatic flavour This works perfectly served with a round of toast to accompany the crab.