Crab is one of my earliest seafood recollections, with toast being spread with Shippams crab paste by my Gran for supper before bed sometime in the late seventies or early eighties. The memory of the sweet, earthy briny flavour has never left me and I think that’s why I’m one of the seeming minority of people who prefer the stronger brown meat to the soft delicate white. Fast forward thirty years and I’m very fortunate that most of the crabs I eat now come not in a little glass jar, but from Maggie and Alfie Edwards in Applecross in the western Scottish highlands. Cooked to perfection and beautifully dressed, I’ve never tasted anything quite as good as theirs. This recipe is inspired by my visits to those fresh highland waters and the juxtaposition that is dressed crab, with the richness and subtlety of the two meats offset by sweet chilli with a little heat, and cut through by the zesty lime. Try to get a chilli that’s more fragrant and aromatic than hot, and serve just with a tangy tartare sauce packed with roughly chopped capers.
Chilli and lime crab cakes
1 dressed crab – both brown and white meat
300g mashed potatoes
Half of a long red chilli finely chopped – check for aroma and heat, if too hot discard seeds and membrane
Juice of half a lime with the other half cut into wedges
Sea salt and black pepper to season
1 egg whisked for dipping
Coarse semolina for coating the crab cakes
Sunflower oil for frying
- In a large bowl combine the mashed potatoes with the crab and chilli.
- Add the lime juice and mix well. Check for seasoning and then add salt as necessary along with a good grinding of black pepper.
- Divide the mixture into six, and make into little patties around one inch thick.
- In a shallow bowl whisk the egg and spread the semolina on a plate. Dip both sides of the patty in egg then coat with the semolina. Do this for each.
- In a frying pan heat the oil to a high heat, brown for a minute on both sides and then cover and cook until hot. Around 4-5 minutes. Serve with tartare sauce.
First published in Great British Chefs