Thai Inspired Crab Noodle Soup

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Having just returned from my parent’s home in beautiful Pembrokeshire, my freezer is now stocked with a plethora of home-caught crustaceans courtesy of my fisherman father. He put the boat to sea for the season while we were there, and P and I were on board for the first lobster pot pull up! Here she is enjoying the ride.

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I decided to dress one of the edible crabs as well as a spider crab to use some of the white meat in this humble yet incredibly satisfying crab noodle soup.

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Firstly, dress the crabs. If you’re unsure how to do this Delia’s step by step photographic instructions will guide you through it. The most important thing to remember is don’t eat the gills, or dead man’s fingers as they’re more commonly known. Although not actually poisonous, they’re very tough and hard to digest.

Once you have a bowl of nice white flakes of meat in front of you you’re ready to proceed with the soup.

Firstly, I boiled the shells in a pan of water for a good hour to give me a nice light stock.

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I drained the boiling stock, through a sieve and into a jug which had a bundle of flat rice noodles in it. The reason for soaking the noodles in stock rather than plain water is because, in my opinion, it allows them to absorb extra flavour as they soften.

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While the noodles were soaking I fried off some finely minced lemongrass, galangal, garlic and shallots in a little coconut oil.

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Once softened I added a couple of minced Thai chillis (don’t go overboard as you don’t want to drown out sweet and subtle flavour of the crab).  Once the noodles were soft, I fished them out of the stock and put them in a bowl before pouring the stock into the pan. At this point I added a tablespoon each of fish sauce, rice wine vinegar and light soy sauce, some lime leaves, a small chunk of rock sugar and about 100ml coconut milk. Simmer to allow the flavours to get to know each other before seasoning further with lime juice, salt and pepper. For extra protein I threw in a handful of frozen prawns (fresh would be best in this instance, but unfortunately I only had cooked in) and some of the crab meat.

Once I’d ladelled the broth over the noodles, Thai basil, chopped coriander, spring onions and a sprinkling of red chilli finished it off nicely. Delicious! Even our 5 year old enjoyed it!

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Lobster and apple salad with dill mayonnaise

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It’s a very special day at church tomorrow as a couple of our younger congregation members have decided to declare their faith to the world and be baptised! After the service the celebrations will continue with a Jacob’s Join (or potluck to my American friends) lunch. To me nothing screams celebration food more than lobster, and thanks to my lovely Daddy who brings me a steady supply of his home caught Pembrokeshire lobsters, I was able to  dig a few out if the freezer ready to adorn with some simple, but scrumptious ingredients.

Firstly, I made a simple mayo using three egg yolks, half a teaspoon of mustard, some cold pressed rapeseed oil, and some good old vegetable oil (which also happens to be rapeseed, it’s just more heavily processed than the cold pressed stuff), white wine vinegar and lemon juice. I’m afraid I can’t really give you quantities as I made it by sight, taste and texture, but there are plenty of recipes on the Internet should you prefer. The basic method is whisking the yolks and mustard together, then adding in oil (very very slowly initially to avoid splitting) until a very thick consistency is reached, before adding the vinegar and lemon juice.

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Once you’re happy with your basic mayo you can start adding flavourings of your choice. I used garlic, salt, pepper and a large handful of freshly chopped dill.

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Delicious! This will keep in the fridge for about a week, although it’s so good I doubt it’d last that long!

Now that the dressing is made, it’s time to remove the meat from the lobsters and start to assemble.

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This is a rather messy job, but well worth it. Break the claws off the body and remove the head from the tail. Cut down the underside of the tail with sharp scissors and remove the meat in one piece by gently pulling it out. Score down the top of the meat and open to reveal the vein. Remove the vein and any rowe which may be in there and chop into small chunks. Set aside.

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Now to the claws. One at a time cover the claw with a clean tea towel to prevent splattering, and gently tap with a hammer to crack. If you’re careful it possible to remove the claw meat in one piece like this:

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Don’t worry if it breaks up though, it’ll just mean you might need to use a skewer to pick the meat out of the ends of the claw. Inside the claw meat is a flat oval bone, remove this whilst breaking the meat up into smaller chunks.

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Now, if you can be bothered you can squeeze meat out of the legs, however this is a tedious task and not one that I had time for today unfortunately. You’ll be left with all the shell and the heads which would make an incredible stock for a bisque or soup, but again, time didn’t permit it today, so the chickens feasted on lobster heads instead and I’m sure they’ll be eternally grateful!

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A little treat to cheer up our very soggy hens on this miserable British day!

Now wash a crisp Granny Smith apple and cut into short matchsticks. Put in a bowl with the chopped up lobster and dollop on a couple of spoonfuls of the dill mayo.

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Combine well and taste. Mine was lacking acidity so I spiked it with more lemon juice.

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I piled the salad into little gem lettuce cups to make them easy to pick up and eat in a couple of mouthfuls, sprinkled over some more chopped dill and served. Delicious!

Lobster Spaghetti

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I’m fortunate enough to have a father whose hobbies include fishing for lobster. Having recently visited him and mum, my freezer is now home to a couple of these crimson beauties.

I’m usually a bit of a purist when it comes to lobster, generally serving it hot off the bbq doused in wild garlic butter, but thought I’d change it up a bit and make a simple but satisfying pasta.

I used the following:

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A cooked lobster, red onion, fresh dill, a generous glug or two of white wine, sour cream, spaghetti, and a portion of my slow roasted herby cherry tomatoes, using dill as the herb and throwing in a few mini bulbs of garlic to roast along with them (once cooked, I put the tomatoes in a bowl and squeezed the roasted garlic out if its paper on top. You can see it in the pic above).

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Remove all the white meat from the lobster (there are tutorials on YouTube or you can see a very quick and badly filmed time lapse of me doing it on my Facebook Page).

Finely slice the onion and sauté over a medium heat in a little olive oil and butter. If you’ve roasted the garlic like I did, add it in once the onions have softened, otherwise you can add it earlier to allow it to cook. Turn the heat up and pour in approximately 100ml white wine. Allow it to reduce for a few minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes, a couple of dessert spoons of sour cream and a good pinch of chopped dill. Allow to simmer very gently while the spaghetti cooks. A few minutes before the spaghetti is ready throw in the lobster and allow to heat through. Check the seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste. Drain the spaghetti saving two or three tablespoons of the starchy water. Add the pasta water to the sauce to loosen it and make it velvety smooth, then add the spaghetti and toss to combine.  Sprinkle over more dill and serve. Delicious!

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Wild garlic butter

It’s that wild garlic time of year again. If you haven’t seen it, chances are you will have smelled its heady aroma if you’ve been anywhere remotely rural.

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Today at the park, we happened upon a nice patch of it, its delicate white flowers in full bloom. DD couldn’t resist having a nibble on a few leaves, but I had plans for the remaining few we had picked.

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You may remember last year I did a post called Four Ways with Wild Garlic, well this is my favourite wild garlic recipe. It also happens to be the quickest and simplest, yet undoubtedly the most versatile.

Very finely chopped 5 or 6 fresh wild garlic leaves and throw in a bowl with 150ml (or so, this definitely doesn’t have to be exact) of double cream and a large pinch of salt (we tend to use Pink Himalayan salt because of the mineral content).

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Whisk and whisk and whisk until the buttermilk separates from the butter. This will splatter so it’s a good idea to cover the Kitchen Aid, or whatever you’re using to whisk, with the guard and a clean tea towel for extra protection.

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Once the butter and buttermilk have separated, pour the mixture into a bowl lined with a tea towel or muslin and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. You’ll end up with a delicious ball of green flecked garlic butter. 

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You can use it as it is, or you can put it on some greaseproof paper, roll it out into a sausage shape for easy slicing, and pop into the freezer for as and when you need it.

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It’s delicious on potatoes, for frying mushrooms, on bruschetta and kneaded into bread dough good rich, tasty garlic bread. The list is endless. Enjoy!

Four ways with Wild Garlic

Over the Easter weekend some friends and I went to a nearby beauty spot for a picnic and a paddle in the river. As the kids were happily splashing about a couple of us snuck off to do a spot of foraging for wild garlic. We certainly weren’t disappointed…

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It was there in abundance. We gathered some up and discussed potential recipes on the way back to the others.

Simple Garlic Butter
Once home I made some garlic butter to keep in the freezer simply by softening 500g salted butter in the Kitchen Aid, and adding in a large amount of finely chopped wild garlic. On greaseproof paper, I moulded it into a loose sausage shape, rolled it up in the paper and froze. That way I can slice off a knob as and when I need it (to make slicing easier dip the knife in boiling water to heat it up). So far I’ve used it in twice baked sweet potatoes, as a base for flatbread pizzas and simply on toast! Delicious!

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Smokey Bacon and wilted Wild garlic
On Sunday, I used some of the remaining garlic as a side dish for our Sunday roast by dry frying some smoked Streaky bacon, then adding in a couple of large handfuls of roughly chopped garlic.  It wilts down the same way spinach does so use more than you think you need. Season with cracked black pepper, but go easy on the salt as the bacon is often seasoning enough. I didn’t manage to get a pic I’m afraid.  Needless to say, the guests loved it, as did I.

Wild Garlic Pesto

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My friend Sam, has a superb recipe for pesto, which is simply delicious on pasta, in gnocchi, on bruschetta, drizzled on salads, pretty much on anything really. Be sure to have a gander at her new blog Me and My Second Self, you won’t be disappointed!

Wild Garlic and Asian Aromatics infused Coconut Oil
As you’ve probably gathered by now, I love Thai, Vietnamese and Asian style food in general and thought it’d be great to have a jar packed full of Asian flavours on my counter, ready to be dipped into any time without the hassle of having to chop everything from scratch.

I buy my coconut oil from Mother Nature’s Goodies on ebay

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I very gently melted in a bain marie until it was pretty much all liquid.

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While it was melting, I gathered the other ingredients: galangal, minced ginger, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, chillis and of course fresh wild garlic.

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Chop all the ingredients except the lime leaves, very finely and place in a sterilised jar.

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Pour over the melted coconut oil, seal and leave to set.

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The flavours will infuse and intensify and it makes a great base for any Asian style recipe.

Enjoy, let me know if you try any of these recipes and be sure to check out Sam’s blog.