April 15, 2011

A TASTE OF THE SEA

There has been an interesting TV series recently about reviving certain British foods.  A number of TV chefs have adopted something traditionally British that is in decline and attempted to stimulate interest in it.

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It was a very good series, not least of all for reminding us of the stranglehold the major supermarkets have on determining what food is available for us to buy. 

One of the foods presented was the crab.  We harvest tons of beautiful crabs from our shores but most of them go abroad for consumption.  We decided we would rally to the cause and have a go at dressing and cooking a crab for ouselves.  But first we would have to find one to buy.

Here in Derbyshire, we are about as far from the sea as you can get in the UK.  I couldn’t think of anywhere I had ever seen a crab for sale other than our visit to Cromer some years ago.  We Googled fishmongers in Derbyshire and found they are a dying breed.  However, we dropped lucky in Tesco’s.  How it pains me to say that, but for the princely sum of £5 we could have our own cooked, but in one piece, crab.  They just had the one for sale and the lady on the fish counter told us that when that was sold they would order another one so they always had one.  Just the one (at £5).  I wondered fleetingly how long they might have had that one but dismissed the idea just as quickly. When we got it home we discovered it wasn’t entirely in one piece as it had three legs missing.

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Meet Cyril the crab.

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On the programme, Angela Hartnett showed how easy it was to dress a crab, if a bit fiddly and time consuming.  She was right, it was easy.  Nick did it as it is obviously very much a man’s thing – something primeval in a man makes him want to be the one to dress the crab, gut the fish, skin the rabbit, light the bbq and disappear when the washing up needs doing.

You can see how it’s done here, thanks to Delia.

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Our crab produced 100 grams of meat.  The recipe calls for white meat only so we discarded everything else.  Next time we will be a slightly braver and keep the brown meat for something, too.

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From it we made four small fish cakes with chilli and spring onion, using home-made breadcrumbs, too.  They were delicious and well worth the effort.  They made a lovely starter and we will definitely make them again, especially if we have guests we want to impress !!

The next week, Nick had a wander round the indoor market in Sheffield in his lunch break and discovered you can buy any number of really fresh crabs in all sizes, none of them more than £3 each.

To see the recipe for CRAB CAKES click here.

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