Raffles has loved seafood since he was a baby. Pre-teeth he would gum down bowl after bowl of fish congee and flaked salmon. By two he was gnawing on prawns and demolishing plates of fresh fish. Soon enough he was eating it raw, and is still a sucker for any kind of sashimi. In fact, you can pretty much guarantee that if it’s from the sea, the kid will devour it…
But recently he has developed something of a crush on crustaceans. Bugs, scampi and crabs to be precise. Especially crabs! Soft shell, muddy, blue swimmer or spanner, Raffles doesn’t discriminate. If you are a crab he wants to meet you and eat you.
He would happily pick and slurp away every day on a stir-fried blue swimmer, bite into crispy fried soft shells, slurp them in soup, scoff them in a sushi roll or devour them in a dumpling. Any way you can serve them up, he’ll gobble them down. And then ask for more.
Admittedly crabs can be a little fiddly to eat but the meat is sweet and delicious and well worth the effort. Raffles has even become a dab hand at using the crabs own claws to pick out the meat.
Given my boy’s fervour for the fruits of the sea and my love for a good tart, we grabbed some cooked crabs from the fish market and picked the meat to create a light and luscious dinner of blue swimmer crab tarts with a simple baby rocket salad, which was a hit with every member of the family from Sugarpuff up. The recipe makes six, and we are only four, but it proved the perfect number as my wee crab-eating kook went back for seconds… and thirds!
While I used to make my own short-crust pastry, I’ve got to say that I’ve fallen in love with Carême Sour Cream Shortcrust pastry and, given that I am completely and unashamedly lazy, used that for these gorgeous tarts.
Blue Swimmer Crab and Gruyere tarts
350 grams crab meat
2 eggs, separated
100 ml Crème fraîche
80g grated Gruyere cheese
Carême Sour Cream Shortcrust pastry (or make your own)
Lemon (cut into wedges)
1. Roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface until around 2-3mm thick.
2. Press into tartlet pan (should make about six individual size tarts). Trim the excess and prick the base all over using a fork.
3. Chill for 60 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 180°C
5. Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans and blind-bake for 10 minutes.
6. Remove the beans and paper and cook for a further 8 minutes until just golden.
7. Brush the inside of each pastry case with egg white and pop back into oven for 2 minutes then set aside to cool.
8. In a bowl mix the crab meat, cream, eggs, a pinch of cayenne and salt and pepper.
9. Spoon the mixture into cases and sprinkle liberally with Gruyere and a tiny pinch of cayenne.
10. Bake for a further 15 minutes until golden.
11. Serve with lemon wedge and baby rocket salad