We spoke to chef and owner at the brilliant Brompton Bar & Grill in London, Francois O'Neill, about how to cook pick of the menu dish Dorset Crab.
"If possible, buy a live crab and cook and prepare it yourself, or get your fishmonger to do it for you. Pre packed crab meat is acceptable from trusted sources and our supplier of crab is Portland Shellfish in Portland, Dorset.
"To cook a whole live crab place it in the freezer for 20 minutes. The crab will not be frozen but will be almost entirely dormant. Working as quickly as possible, raise the tail flap, drive a skewer or small screwdriver into the small dent underneath and move side to side to kill the crab. Drop the crab into salted water at a fast rolling boil and bring up to the boil again. Crab should cook between 15-20 minutes for reasonably sized crabs (2lb average). Once the crab has boiled, remove from the water and allow to cool while assembling your tools. I use a rolling pin and a heavy knife that I'm not too particular about keeping in perfect condition. Cracking shells is a messy process but the end result is fantastic.
"I recommend knocking together a dish we call Dorset Crab Claws with Chilli, Lemon & Tarragon. Get your fishmonger to cook and shell the crab claws if you don't feel confident yourself. It's not necessary that you do the dirty work. One can even buy ready cooked crab claws that have been prepared but this again should be done through a reliable source. If you have cooked the crab whole, reserve the outer main shells for another dish and crack the claws using the best instruments you can find. Be careful to keep the claw in one piece. This requires delicate work in cracking the shells. You will need about 5 claws per person.
"Make a chilli and lemon butter by adding finely chopped chilli and lemon juice to soft butter to taste. The flavour should be quite tart and spicy. This can be refrigerated. Our guide recipe is below but you should make this butter to taste:
125g Unsalted Butter
2 Red Chilli’s
1 Lemon – Juice and Grated Zest
Add a piece of the chilli butter to the pan, about 25g, and wait till foaming. Add in the 5 cooked crab claws and cover in the foaming butter. Add in about 100ml of chicken stock to the pan and bring up to the boil. You are heating the cooked crab claws and making a sauce. Once the crabs claws are warmed through spoon the claws into a bowl. Add 6-7 leaves of chopped tarragon to the sauce and spoon over the claws. Eat with your fingers!