Devilled spider crab in the shell

Recently we went on holiday to Wales for a week by the sea. We managed to get a spider crab from the local fishmonger which had been picked up from the fishing village we were staying in that morning (you don’t get much fresher than that).

Neither of us had a clue of what to do with spider crab however this recipe from The River Cottage Fish Book was really easy and completely wowed us. It’s creamy, rich in flavour and completely delicious. Spider crab is also pretty cheap (around £4-£5 each) so it’s a fairly cheap way to do something pretty special. An excellent dish which is sure to impress…

Spider Crab

We shared one whole crab as a starter, if you wanted to serve as a main course then a crab each should be fine. Halve the ingredients below if you’re just cooking one crab.

Ingredients (for two crabs)

50g unsalted butter + extra
1 large onion finely chopped
100ml sherry
1.5 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 heaped tsp english mustard
generous shake of tabasco sauce
200ml double cream
2 cooked medium spider crabs
squeeze of lemon juice
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
salt & freshly ground black pepper

1) Pick out the meat from the shell and clean the shells. Picking out the meat can be fiddly, essentially it involves cracking the legs and claws and pulling the white meat out, then scraping the brown meat from the middle of the shell.

Foodie Tip – I’ve searched for videos on youtube and vimeo for spider crab cleaning but found nothing particularly useful. Watching a video on cleaning a brown crab may help if you’re unsure however my advice would be to talk to your fishmonger and get their advice.

2) Heat the butter in a large heavy based saucepan on a medium heat. Sweat the onion in the butter until softened but not coloured. Add the sherry, boil for a few seconds then add the vinegar and worcestershire sauce.

3) Stir in the mustard and tabasco sauce then add the cream. Bring the sauce to a simmer cook for a couple of minutes until it starts to thicken then remove from the heat.

4) Fold the crab meat into the sauce, season with salt and pepper and lemon juice then spoon the mixture into the shells – try not to completely fill the shell as it will spill over.

5) Cover the shell full of crab meat with breadcrumbs and dot with butter. Then bake in the oven at 190 degrees for 25 minutes. Breadcrumbs should be crispy and golden.

6) Serve with a fresh green salad and enjoy.

Devilled Spider Crab

Sam and Spider Crab

(I know that playing with your food is frowned upon, but we couldn't resist!

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