Sunday, 21 June 2015

Buttered Crab Loaf

My new blog is now at:

Dish as in the book

Wow, 2013 seems a long time ago doesn't it? Well I've decided to revive this blog and use it as my main source of food blogging. After setting up White Heat - The Recipes, which is still very much active and dedicated to the work of Marco Pierre White.

Just lately I've had Historic Heston drop through the door, a recipe book largely based on historic dishes brought into the modern era which are mainly served at Dinner by Heston at the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge.

Flicking through the book is incredibly similar to The Fat Duck Cookbook in its layout and photography with explanations and suchlike about dishes and their origins.

Picking what to begin with first was tricky but I opted for the buttered crab loaf, for no reason at all other than I had planned to make the cucumber ketchup with scallops on the same day (as the loaf uses the same fluid gel) but in the end I couldn't be arsed to make two dishes.

The whole recipe took me three days in total, the biggest culprit of that is the loaf itself, made by drenching brioche in a concoction of crab stock, whipping cream, chervil and eggs, allowing the loaf to soak overnight, baking it and then chilling it. Well it wouldn't be Heston if it were easy now would it?

The stock incidentally is made using whole crabs (I used a selection of claws) with vegetables, tomatoes, white wine and brandy and once reduced it tastes (and smells) awesome.

Most of the other components were made on the day I was going to serve it, other than the pickled lemons that had been in their liquid for 48 hours. Accompanying the crab loaf is a salad of crab which includes shallot confit, chervil, tarragon, compressed cucumber, celery and white crabmeat brought together with a lemon mayonnaise, not too tricky then...

I'd used the shells that I'd taken the white meat from to infuse a butter which would form the crab butter, used to fry off the finished loaves and dress the salad. The only other step left was to make the cucumber fluid gel...

Cucumber Juice

I really don't like cucumbers so I was wary of the gel's presence on the finished plate, putting my trust in the recipe I went for it, dicing up two cucumbers and blitzing them in the processer and passing through a sieve gave me the greenest water I've ever seen.

The next step is to heat the water gently and add gellan F to act as a thickening agent as the puree is cooled over ice. I was chuffed as straight away my puree was setting to perfect consistency as I blended away checking out my dark green masterpiece, all that however was about to change...

Cucumber Fluid Gel

Once the mixture is formed you have to add a solution of white wine vinegar and sugar that's been boiled clear and dissolved, as soon as this happened the puree went to a light green colour and back to pure liquid form. Thinking quickly I realised that the acidity in the vinegar was possibly to blame so I heated the gel up again adding a touch more gellan and repeating the process, in the end we got there resulting in a nice green gel that tasted surprisingly brilliant.

The salad dressing was a mixture of the crab butter (melted) with some of the pickling syrup from the lemons and a drop of bergamot juice. I used bergamot flavouring which is powerful as hell so beware, just add literally a drop.


After cutting, shaping and frying the loaves in the remaining crab butter it was time to plate up, leaning a tower of crab salad against the caramelised loaf and scattering over the pea shoots with a drag quenelle of fluid gel the dish looked the business. I had to omit the herring roe sadly as it was unavailable.

Finished dish

Holy shit this is good, I mean REALLY good, everything just works, the flavour in the crab salad is amazing, so fresh with the pickled lemons really giving that lift of acidity, my mayonnaise was a little salty so I didn't need to add any seasoning, the loaf is crispy on the outside and soft in the middle with such subtle flavour, like butter! The gel just adds freshness and binds the two together, a brilliant dish.

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