A dish of crab and corn feels like the heady height of summer. I made this plate to cheer myself up, truth be told; there’s nothing ‘wrong with me’ per se, I just feel a bit overwhelmed. Arranging sunny flavours on a plate can go a long way towards lifting my spirits, particularly followed by an hour or two on the sofa with a book. Like a kind of reset button.

I bought a dressed crab for this because cooking and picking one would’ve been too much, and I charred the corn indoors on a griddle pan rather than on the barbecue because I didn’t want the smokiness to overwhelm the crab but honestly, I also couldn’t be bothered with faff.

Rich, salty crab meat and sweet niblets (niblets!) of corn are a wonderful combination and I brought it all together with a sauce of melted butter, harissa and brown crab meat. A squeeze of lime plus its zest and a few wiggly tarragon leaves and this is a very fine and really quite decadent lunch.

There are different directions you could take this in depending on mood – an Old Bay and chilli butter would be fantastic, as would straight up tarragon, or tarragon and chive. Try swapping lime for lemon or grapefruit, or add carbs e.g. small potatoes. It’s a very simple recipe – just a lovely arrangement of good things which has the potential to make you feel very clever and capable.

And yes, I’m feeling much better, thank you.

Charred Corn and Crab with Harissa Butter Recipe

Serves 2 with bread/potatoes/whatever as a main dish, or 4 as a side

1 dressed crab or 1 brown crab cooked and picked – separate the white and brown meat
2 large cobs of corn, husks removed
1 spring onion, white and green parts very finely sliced
A couple of sprigs of tarragon leaves, picked
Juice and zest of 1-2 limes
25g butter
1 tablespoon harissa

Heat a griddle pan until very hot. Rub the corn lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper, then place into the pan. Cook, turning frequently until charred lightly on all sides. Remove and allow to cool, then slice the niblets from the cob.

Gently melt the butter and stir in the harissa and brown crab meat.

Scatter the corn over a serving plate, add the white crab meat and spring onion. You may not want/need all of the spring onion. Drizzle over the harissa butter and follow with a good squeeze of lime juice and zest. Taste and adjust by adding more seasoning or lime juice. Finally, add the tarragon leaves and serve.

Want more crab recipes?

Hot Crab Dip | Crab, Corn and Caviar Tacos | Crab Lasagna | Crab Fried Rice | Louisiana Crab Cakes 

Want more corn recipes?

Jerk Spiced Corn Fritters | Sour Creamed Corn | Corn and Kimchi Fritters | Pickled Corn with Scotch Bonnet 

Regular readers will know I have much love for retro and unfashionable food. I warmly recall hastily scoffed Findus Crispy Pancakes after-school, hot, greasy pasties on holidays in Cornwall and cold rice salad eaten curled up in Dad’s armchair, glued to Ready Steady Cook. These are, of course, comfort foods for me but I think they have merits in the taste department too and I often find myself defending the likes of the steak slice and cod in parsley sauce. They are basic yet satisfying dishes which seem to warm me until I glow like the Ready Brek Man. They hark back to times when my tastebuds were simpler to please and a sausage roll with a takeaway packet of ketchup followed by a snail bun from the school canteen really was the highlight of my day. Still sounds pretty rad, to be honest.

In a slightly different category of retro foods, you’ll find the vol-au-vent. These were not consumed at home but appeared at family events by which I mean weddings or funerals. Here one would encounter what I (and I think, probably, most people) call the ‘brown buffet.’ A trestle table is laid with platters of triangular sandwiches (ham, cheese, chicken, prawn mayo, tuna, that kind of thing), those tiny wrinkly sausages, tiny wrinkly sausage rolls, mini (wrinkly) quiches, pork pies etc. And so we come to vols-au-vent.

I’ve always adored vols-au-vent because what you have is pastry + creamy savoury filling which is an objectively good combination. The most common flavours were 1) creamy chicken and 2) creamy mushroom but I occasionally encountered a slightly leftfield creation involving fish or perhaps even a brown, steak-appropriate sauce. In recent years, the vol-au-vent made a comeback and I’ve had some decadent snackette versions in restaurants filled with soft, pudgy garlic snails (yes, yes and thrice yes!) or lip-coating braised oxtail.

You’re probably not too surprised to see crab filling mine (again, regulars will smile or groan) which I’ve combined with creme fraiche, lemon and curry powder, for extra throwback points. They’re so easy to make too: cut pastry, bake pastry, cut pastry again, combine filling and dollop into pastry. The perfect party snack (there’s no denying the festive bellyache season is nearly upon us) or just a way to show off at your next brown food buffet.

Curried Crab Vols-au-vent Recipe

Makes around 15

500g ready-made puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
1 dressed crab (this will give you white and brown meat)
1 heaped tablespoon creme fraiche
A squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 – 1 teaspoon medium hot curry powder (these vary wildly so it’s best to add a little then taste)
1/2 teaspoon paprika

You’ll need two pastry cutters (or in my case, two glasses) which are a few cms different in size. So one cutter (glass) had an 8cm rim and the other had a 4cm rim.

Preheat the oven to 190C

Roll out the pastry to a thickness of approx 5mm. Cut circles using the larger cutter then, use the smaller cutter to partially cut smaller circles in the centre of each large circle – don’t cut all the way through the pastry. You can reroll the remaining pastry but it won’t rise as well so try to be economical in the way you cut the circles.

Place the circles on two large baking trays and brush with the beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes, or until risen and golden. When cool enough to handle, cut the centre circle out, leaving the base intact.

Combine the crab, creme fraiche, lemon juice, curry powder and paprika. Taste and adjust the amount of lemon juice, seasoning or curry powder as necessary. Divide between the pastry cases and top with a sprinkle of the chives.


I remember reading some ‘dieting advice’ once, probably during the ’90’s when I was an impressionable teenager and therefore likely to have been seeking out that kind of drivel. The author – who I imagine now writes articles about baking eggs into the centre of avocados, or runs a ‘cartwheels on the beach’ Instagram account – advised readers ‘never reward your success with food.’ Are. You. Actually. Freakin’. Kidding.

Woman, did ya not know that rewarding oneself with food is one of life’s greatest pleasures? I feel sad that you were not able to get a new job, pass a test or (let’s face it) do something very routine and dull like pay a bill or go to the dentist without promising yourself a fat sandwich afterwards, or a share-size bar of Dairy Milk. How did you reward yourself, exactly? Perhaps a stern rap on the knuckles (good for staying ‘in the moment’) followed by two hours of step aerobics? Buzz off.

When I want to reward myself with food like a normal person I know how to do it properly, which brings me to these crab tacos. We’ve recently enjoyed various successes in this house and wanted to celebrate but we’ve also had some struggles and the logical response to both is the same: good food. If this were a ’90’s multiple choice quiz with absolutely no scientific basis my answers would now reveal that I am ‘C: The Emotional Eater.’ Who isn’t? If you see food as ‘just fuel’ then we are too fundamentally different and I think you meant to click on the link to www.don’tsabotagemy#gains.com.

We had to really work for these as well due to an apparent shortage of masa flour in the south east London area. In the end we bought some in Wholefoods (Picadilly) and as a result made an important discovery which is that the Cool Chili Co. masa flour is WAY easier to make tacos with than this Mexican brand, the one we usually buy. Our tacos often turn out a little crumbly but with the very finely ground Cool Chili Co. stuff they were pretty much perfect. If you’re having the same trouble, give it a go. They have a stall at Borough Market as well as the online shop.

We’d already come up with this recipe a few months back during a test run. The brown meat is mixed with smoky Mexican chillies, topped with a lime-heavy grilled corn salsa, white crab meat, sour cream and then – because why TF not – some caviar. Not the massively expensive stuff you understand but enough to give it a salty kick and make you feel like a boss. Enough to make you feel like you’ve received the reward you deserve for just, like, existing in the world without making a hash of it. If you want to make a hash, of course, then rock on.

Crab, Corn and Caviar Tacos Recipe

You can make this with 1 large, whole crab if you want to cook it yourself but obviously, the amount of meat will vary. I’ve given you the weight of meat here to make things simpler. This makes around 18 tacos.

For the tacos

250g masa flour (masa harina)
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the crab

150g brown crab meat
200g white crab meat
1/2 dried Guajillo chilli
1/2 dried Ancho chilli
1/2 Pasilla chilli (obviously, just use one variety if you have one but I happened to have three – or mix it up)

For the salsa

4 corn cobs
1 small red onion, finely diced
Juice of 2 limes
Large handful coriander leaves, chopped

To serve

Sour cream

Barbecue the corn cobs until lightly charred on all side. Shave the niblets (NIBLETS!) from the cob and mix with the other ingredients plus some salt. Set aside.

Soak the dried chillies in boiling water for around half an hour, or until softened. Deseed and whizz in a blender with the brown crab meat. Set aside.

To make the tacos, put the flour in a bowl and add the salt. Add 350ml water and bring together into a ball. Cover this and let it sit for 20 minutes. Press on the ball – if it cracks you need to add a bit more water. Do this a tablespoon at a time until it’s soft but not sticky. Divide into approx 30g balls. These instructions I copied from the back of the masa flour packet – they’re very good!

Line a taco press with a greaseproof paper square and place a ball on it. Put another square of paper on top and press.

Heat a dry frying pan or skillet over a medium-high heat. Cook each tortilla in a dry pan until the tortilla begins to release itself from the pan – 20-30 seconds. Flip – sometimes they puff up (desirable), sometimes they don’t. Don’t worry about it. Keep warm wrapped in a tea towel.

Assemble! We did brown meat followed by corn salsa, white meat, sour cream, caviar.

Crab Lasagna recipe

Oh readers, how I have failed you. It has been a full five months since I promised I’d fill this site with more crab recipes. Crab, as I’ve mentioned too many times, is one of my favourite foods and although I will always love eating them simply cooked and served with mayonnaise best of all, it would be criminal not to experiment. I would be letting the side down. 

In the archives, then, you will find Louisiana crab cakes, crab fried ricehot crab dip and now, this.  Get your baggiest pants ready my friends because this arrangement of carbs and crabs (*notes important order of letters*) is going to beat you into submission until you are a quivering wreck of happiness, belly up like a flailing beetle.

Crab Lasagna

If this lasagna were a particularly camp and bitchy young fashion magazine employee it would walk, steps crisscrossing one another like knives in a vicious sashay, telling everyone it would slay you. And it will. This is possibly one of the richest dishes I’ve ever made, despite attempts to curtail said richness with the addition of lemon and herbs. It’s the kind of dish you eat a small portion of then ask for another but regret it, like the kid who makes himself sick on chocolate cake then voms it up on someone’s white sofa.

So yeah, it’s really great. Make it. You’ll need four full crabs so maybe this is one best left for when you want to really impress someone or put them off crab for life. Could go either way.

Crab Lasagna Recipe

This fills a 9 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish.

The meat from 4 cooked and prepared crabs (white and brown), or just buy 4 whole dressed crabs
500 g ricotta
1 handful tarragon, finely chopped
1 handful chives, finely chopped
50g butter
50g all-purpose white flour
500ml whole milk
Juice of 1 lemon
White pepper
Lasagna sheets

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Separate the white and brown crab meat. Mix the white meat with the chopped herbs, ricotta and lemon juice. Season with salt and white pepper.

Melt the butter in a pan, then add the flour and stir vigorously to form a paste. Add a little of the milk at a time until all the milk is incorporated, stirring constantly until you have a smooth, slightly thickened sauce. Season and mix in the brown crab meat.

Dip the lasagna sheets in very hot water (easiest in a baking dish). Layer up in alternating layers so white mixture, pasta, brown mixture, pasta and so on. Finish with an aggressive grating of Pecorino.

I struggle to remember how long we baked this for – 20 minutes or so I should think. Just bake it until it’s golden on top, basically.

I want to be able to look back on my life as one long series of crab dinners. Tasty little weirdos. I’m never happier than when working over a crab and I think that if I had to choose the absolute best way of eating one, it would be simply steamed and served with a baguette (not a sourdough mouth-ripper, a nice soft white job, handmade by someone) and plenty of just-whisked mayonnaise. That’s it. That’s heaven right there providing, of course, you’ve remembered the chilled white wine.

Looking back, I can remember many excellent crab feasts, including a lesson in cooking Singapore chilli crab at Rick Stein’s seafood school in Padstow where a group of mates and I got the willies before putting a skewer through their heads (you must, it’s the most humane way of doing things), then plastered ourselves in the rich sauce, flinging bits of hairy pink leg through the air as we ate, our fingers stained orange.

There was a stir fry of small mud crabs in Borneo, one of my first meals there, and it was so good we started eating and immediately ordered another plate. There was something feral about it, something fusty and borderline illegal. Brilliant.

I remember two marvellous crab sandwiches in San Diego, both sparkly-fresh, rammed with crab meat, the bread so soft it felt like coming home. Sandwich nirvana. I get dreamy-eyed for steamed crabs eaten overlooking the beach in Jersey, for endless crab buffets in Sweden and for cracked beauts on ice in London’s Wright Bros. (can’t beat the Spitalfields branch in my opinion – they also do an insanely good chocolate mousse).

Anyway, the weird thing is, there are hardly any crab recipes on this blog, WTAF?! So, I’ve decided to rectify that once and for all. Over the next couple of months, I’m gonna be hitting that crab hard. This is the first instalment my friends and I swear it’s one of the best Crabby Things you can make. Hot crab dip is very much a Southern American thang but my version is a sort of mashup – a bit British, a bit Maryland with the Old Bay Seasoning, a bit deep South with the cream cheese. It’s rich, but I’ve used less cheese than other recipes and ramped up the crab flavour by using the brown meat, which literally no other person seems to do, ever. Mishtake.

Hot Crab Dip Recipe

1 banana shallot (or 2 smaller ones), finely diced
2 large cloves of garlic
50g butter
1 dressed crab
140g cream cheese
1 lemon
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (you can buy it on Amazon)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
50g breadcrumbs
Parsley, to garnish (optional)
Bread, to serve (or crackers)

Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3

Melt the butter and gently soften the shallots and garlic for a minute or two. Whisk in the cream cheese. Remove from the heat and add the crab (white and brown meat), the Old Bay and cayenne and the juice of 1/2-1 whole lemon (I needed all of it in the end). Mix in the breadcrumbs. Taste and add some pepper (I used white) and salt if you need it, but you probably won’t since the main ingredient of Old Bay is celery salt.

Transfer to an oven proof dish and bake for 10-15 mins or until warmed all the way through. Garnish with parsley, if using and serve with bread or crackers. SO GOOD.

Crab Fried Rice

Crab is my favourite thing to eat, but I’ve realised you wouldn’t know it from reading this blog, and that must change. It’s both a blessing and curse for me because if I see crab on the menu, I can’t order anything else. It’s a hard life, I tell ya. Anyway, this is a recipe I wrote for Wine Trust 100, so I thought I’d share it here in the interests of upping the crab quota, and also because it tastes brilliant *scuttles away waving pincers* 

I’ve long been of the opinion that crab is the tastiest creature to walk the earth and seabed (sideways). So yes, it’s my favourite food but even if it were not, I’d still recognise that it’s far tastier than lobster, and much cheaper as a bonus. We’re at the start of the brown crab season now, which continues until around November time, so we can make the most of them all spring and summer long.

We’re all familiar with crab salads, crab on toast and crab linguine, but crab fried rice is a great way to use the crustacean that’s often overlooked – unless you’re Thai. The origins of this dish are South East Asian, then, and it makes use of lots of those familiar bright, aromatic flavourings such as ginger, coriander and chilli.

I’ve matched the dish with a Provencale rosé, pale in colour with delicate pineapple and anise herbal notes that make it just about the most moreish of rosé styles. While it’s traditionally considered an aperitif, we all know it works equally well with food, particularly creatures of the sea.

I’ve toned down the chilli heat here (which would normally be three times as punchy) so as not to hobble the wine and I think the match is an excellent one – the bright lime and coriander top notes sing and the deep umami of the crab meat shines just that bit brighter against the wine’s crisp acidity.

Crab Fried Rice Recipe (matched with 2014 Chateau la Moutete, Grand Reserve Rose)

Serves 2

250g Jasmine rice (dry weight), cooked
2.5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 bird’s eye chilli, finely sliced
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 large eggs
150g picked white crab meat
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon Fino sherry or Shaoxing rice wine
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
Handful fresh coriander leaves
Sliced cucumber, to serve

Heat half a tablespoon of the oil in a wok over a high heat. Add the chilli, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring for around 10 seconds, just until fragrant.

Add half the rice (we don’t want to crowd the pan) then stir fry until the rice is just starting to colour and has taken on a chewy texture – a few minutes should do it. Set aside, add another half tablespoon of oil and stir-fry the remaining rice. Add the first lot of rice back to the pan and stir to combine.

Add the fish sauce, sherry or Shaoxing rice wine and soy. Stir fry to combine and cook until evaporated.

Push the rice to one side of the wok and crack in both eggs, then scramble them with your spatula, stirring until cooked. Break into pieces and combine with the rice.

Add the crab and spring onions and cook, stirring until the crab meat is warmed through. Stir in the coriander and taste for seasoning, adding salt if necessary. Serve with the sliced cucumber.

I was trying to find crab on a bank holiday Monday, so I was trying to find crab that wasn’t tinned and I had to go really out of my way, to a Waitrose. A Waitrose in Clapham. No one should have to do that.

I didn’t realise courgette flowers had so much of a flavour, actually, since I’d only ever eaten them stuffed with cheese and deep fried. I think they deserve slightly more delicate treatment to be honest. I filled them with the elusive crab meat and some itty bitty brown shrimps and fried them in a frying pan with just a touch of oil. Very good indeed with chilli and lemon on top.

Courgette Flowers Stuffed with Crab and Brown Shrimp Recipe

(makes enough stuffing for about 10 courgette flowers)

100g white crab meat
50g brown shrimp
1 tablespoon ricotta
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1/2 lemon

Mix the crab, shrimp and ricotta together and season. Stuff this mixture carefully into the flowers – do not overfill, it’s very tempting. In a frying pan, heat a little vegetable oil and gently fry the flowers until starting to colour on the outside. Eat with chilli, lemon and a glass of chilled white wine.

Crab Cakes

I’ve really fallen for the food of Louisiana since making a po’ boy last week. The spice mix sent to me by @Laissezchef is excellent and in order to find a way of getting more of it into my hungry, hungry face, I decided to make me some crab cakes, Southern style.

Although I enjoy the odd British, potato bolstered fish cake, I’ve never really been mad keen. Often they’re more potato than fish, making them bland and heavy. American fish (or in this case, crab) cakes, rarely use any such filler, and if they do, its usually breadcrumbs, which give a much lighter result. The differences don’t stop there however, and there’s one ingredient that’s always put me off: mayonnaise. Mayonnaise INSIDE the fish cake. There’s just something about the idea of it that’s always made me feel slightly nauseous but I decided to bite the bullet and, as the Americans would say, suck it up.

It turns out that the mayo is magic, binding with real silkiness – hardly surprising since it is essentially a load of oil. This probably should bother me, but since these are hardly healthy by the time they’ve been fried anyway I made the decision to get over it.

I used a mixture of white and brown meat (the latter adding so much flavour), so that the end result was incredibly, well, crabby. Rich and decadent, with the sweetness of the mellowed red pepper playing off the crab, and a punchy background of herbs and spring onion, which, to my huge relief, didn’t overwhelm. Fried in a mixture of polenta and a little more of that Louisiana spice, the coating turned out really crunchy – a lovely contrast to the soft innards.

To go with, a celeriac remoulade. I just love celeriac raw, never more so than bound with a good, home-made mayo. To tart it up, chopped pickled gherkins, herbs, a good whack of mustard and a generous souring with lemon juice plus my new favourite ingredient, juice from the pickle jar.

Lousiana Crab Cakes


As always when faced with the leftovers, my thoughts turned to sandwiches. First came the obvious, crab cake, remoulade and hot sauce; second came a deluxe fish finger number (above).

Louisiana Crab Cakes with Celeriac Remoulade

(makes 12, easily halved)

450g cooked white and brown crab meat (fresh crab is pricey, so if you want to make these more affordable, tinned crab white meat would be an option)
5 spring onions, very finely chopped (white and green parts)
1 red pepper, very finely chopped
2 sticks celery, very finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons chives, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, very finely chopped (optional)
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise (I made my own, recipe here)
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon New Orleans spice mix (e-mail to purchase)

Polenta plus a little more spice mix, for coating
Oil, for frying

Soften the red pepper and celery very gently for about 15 minutes until lovely and soft but not coloured. Set aside and allow to cool.

Pick through the crab meat to check for any pieces of shell, then place in a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients, including the softened veg (when cool), plus some salt and pepper. Mix well and taste for seasoning.

Form into cakes and set aside to chill in the fridge for an hour.

After this time, cover a plate with polenta, then add another half tablespoon of spice and mix it together. Coat each crab cake by turning it over in the mixture and dusting off any excess.

Heat about 2cm vegetable, groundnut or other frying oil in a heavy based frying pan and cook the cakes for a few minutes each side until golden and crisp. Cook them in batches of 3 or 4, so as not to crowd the pan and lower the temperature of the oil. Drain on kitchen paper then keep warm in a low oven while you cook the remaining cakes.

Celeriac Remoulade

1/2 small celeriac, peeled
1 quantity 2 egg yolk mayo (recipe here)
3 sweet pickled gherkins, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon chives, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon sweet American mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
A little juice from the pickle jar

Squeeze the lemon juice into a large bowl. To deal with the celeriac, peel it, then cut it into fine matchsticks. I have a nifty peeler which makes lovely little strands out of vegetables. I realise most of you lot probably don’t own one of these, so I’m sorry but you’ll have to slog it out with the knife. Don’t be tempted to grate the celeriac unless you have a really good, coarse grater, because it will go all claggy and horrible when mixed with the mayo; it needs to retain bite. So, once you have your strands, toss immediately in the lemon juice to prevent discolouration.

Mix in all the other ingredients, adjusting the seasoning as you go; you may want more hot sauce, more mustard, more salt etc.