Twice-baked crab and chive soufflés with quick-pickled samphire
- April 2016
- Serves 6
- Hands-on time 40 min, oven time 30 min, plus quick-pickling
These light crab and chive soufflés make an impressive starter and they can be made up to 24 hours in advance – perfect for a dinner party.
- 32.4g (18.2g saturated)
- 32.4g (26.1g sugars)
- 40g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 250ml whole milk
- 190ml double cream
- 1 onion, chopped into wedges
- 45g plain flour
- ½ tsp English mustard powder
- Scant ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 100g brown crabmeat
- 150g white crabmeat, flaked
- 4 medium free-range eggs, separated
- 15g fresh chives, snipped
- Zest 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp grated parmesan
For the quick-pickled samphire
- 100g samphire, from large supermarkets and fishmongers
- 3 banana shallots, finely sliced into rings
- 175ml cider vinegar
- 125g caster sugar
You’ll also need…
- 6 x 175ml metal pudding basins or ramekins
- Make the quick-pickled samphire: put all the ingredients into a non-metallic, wide container (to maximise surface area). Sprinkle with sea salt, then toss everything together and set aside for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours (cover and chill if you’re leaving it for longer than an hour).
- For the soufflés, generously butter 6 x 175ml metal pudding basins or ramekins. Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Put the milk, 40ml of the cream and the onion in a saucepan and heat gently until the liquid is steaming. Set aside to infuse.
- Melt the 40g butter in a large pan, then stir in the flour, mustard powder and cayenne pepper. Let it sizzle over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, stirring, or until the mixture smells biscuity. Strain the infused milk into a jug, then add to the pan in a thin stream, whisking with a balloon whisk while the mixture thickens and bubbles. When all the milk is added, you should have a mixture that comes away from the sides of the pan and holds its shape. Don’t add the milk too quickly or the sauce won’t thicken properly. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Stir the crabmeat, egg yolks, chives and lemon zest into the thickened sauce. Taste and season – it needs to be on the slightly salty side to account for the egg whites when they’re added. Put on a full kettle to boil.
- Put the egg whites in a spotlessly clean mixing bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form when the beaters are removed. Using a metal spoon, gently fold a couple of tbsp of the whisked egg whites into the crab mixture to loosen it. Fold in the rest of the whites in thirds, being careful not to knock out the air. Once the mixture is incorporated, gently spoon it into the ramekins/basins, then put them in a roasting tin.
- Pour the water from the kettle around the ramekins/basins, being careful not to spill any on the soufflé mixture, until the water reaches halfway up the sides. Carefully transfer the tin to the oven, then cook for 15 minutes or until the soufflés are golden and set but still with a slight wobble. Remove the soufflés from the water and leave to cool – they may sink a little, but don’t worry.
- Once cold, run a knife around the edge of each soufflé to loosen, then tip upside-down into an ovenproof baking dish in which they fit fairly snugly without overlapping.
- Heat the oven to 220°/200°C fan/gas 8. Pour the remaining 150ml cream over each soufflé so it puddles around it in the baking dish. Scatter with the parmesan, putting most of it on the soufflé tops and the rest in the dish. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cheese is starting to crisp and the soufflés are heated through.
- Let the soufflés stand for 2 minutes. Drain the quick-pickled samphire, then serve alongside.
Cider vinegar’s appley flavour works well with crab, but you could use white or red wine vinegar instead.
This recipe is ideal for making in advance, as the second bake is brief. Follow the recipe to the end of step 7 up to 24 hours in advance, then cover and chill. Remove the soufflés from the fridge 30 minutes before baking again (step 8). Make the quick pickle up to 24 hours ahead and keep in the fridge; drain just before serving.
The buttery edge of chardonnay is terrific here.Make it a crisp, cool-climate chablis.
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