Herbed crab, saffron and chilli mayonnaise with toasted baguette
- December 2015
- Serves 8
- Hands-on time 20 min, oven time 10 min
An aromatic and light crab starter, packed with flavour from herbs and saffron- a must have recipe for anybody’s dinner party repertoire.
- 29.9g (3.8g saturated)
- 15.1g (1.3g sugars)
For the mayonnaise
- 1 red chilli
- 2 large free-range egg yolks
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 290ml sunflower oil
- Pinch saffron strands, soaked in 1⁄2 tbsp boiling water for 15 minutes
- Small garlic clove, crushed
- 100g brown crabmeat
- Juice ½ lemon (optional)
For the crab
- 450g white crabmeat
- 3 large handfuls mixed soft fresh herbs such as chives, parsley, basil or coriander, finely chopped
- Lemon wedges to serve
For the toasted baguette
- 1 sourdough or artisan baguette (see tips)
- Put the bread for the toasted baguette in the freezer while you prepare the mayonnaise. Using metal kitchen tongs, put the chilli directly over the flame of a gas hob, turning occasionally, for 5-8 minutes until completely blackened. (Or char under a hot grill.) Put the charred chilli in a freezer bag, seal and leave to steam for 5 minutes, then rub off the skin and roughly chop the flesh (taste the chilli first and discard the seeds/pith if very hot). Leave to cool.
- Whizz the egg yolks, vinegar, chilli, mustard and a good pinch of salt in a food processor, or whisk in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes until well combined. Put the sunflower oil in a jug, then very slowly drizzle it into the egg mixture while whisking (if you’re not using a freestanding mixer, get someone to pour while you whisk) until the mixture starts to thicken. If it doesn’t thicken after a couple of minutes, stop adding the oil and whisk until the mixture thickens up a little, then continue adding the oil as you whisk. If at any point the mixture looks like it’s getting greasy or starting to split, add a small splash of cold water and keep w isking. You may also need to whisk in a splash of water if it gets too thick before you’ve added all the oil – stop now and then and have a look at the mixture. Once you’ve incorporated all the oil, you should have a thick mayonnaise. Briefly whisk in the saffron and its soaking water, the crushed garlic and the brown crabmeat. Taste and season, adding a bit of lemon juice if you like – it should be quite sharp.
- Once the bread is hard but not frozen, slice as thinly as you can and lay out on 1-2 baking sheets. Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Bake the baguette slices for 8-10 minutes until crisp and lightly golden all over. Cool on wire racks.
- Mix the white crabmeat with the chopped herbs and season with a little salt and plenty of pepper. Pile into 8 small bowls, put some mayo in other small bowls and divide among 8 dinner plates. Put 4-5 slices of toasted baguette on each plate and serve immediately with lemon wedges for squeezing.
Save time by stirring the mayonnaise flavourings into good quality bought mayo, but be aware the texture may become thinner and a bit runny. If you have leftover mayonnaise, it’s delicious in sandwiches spread thickly, with leftover turkey and plenty of salad. Or toss with finely sliced fennel and white/red cabbage and serve as a slaw with cooked white fish or prawns.
If you don’t have a decent bakery nearby, buy the rustic part-baked/ bake-at-home baguettes in the freezer section of supermarkets. You’ll need to bake them and let them cool before you freeze and slice them (step 1).
Make the saffron and chilli mayonnaise up to 3 days ahead, stirring through the crabmeat just before serving. Make the toasts and store in an airtight container, then warm through in the oven just before serving.
Omit the chilli, saffron and garlic and stick to a classic crab mayo.
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