This recipe was provided by our Guest Chef Jason Atherton.
Crab reduction - Make sure to keep the crab claws and chunks of meat aside for plating
• 4 large crabs
• Olive oil for cooking
• 1 large whole onion, roughly chopped
• 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
• 1 leek (white part), roughly chopped
• 1 lemongrass stick, trimmed and bashed
• 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
• 50g root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
• 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
• 2 table spoons tomato paste
• 100ml brandy
• 1 litre Fish Stock
• 1 litre whole milk
• 500ml double cream
• Maldon sea salt and black pepper
Chop the whole crabs into quarters using a cleaver or a heavy knife. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan, add the crab pieces and fry, turning occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until golden brown all over. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Drizzle a little more oil into the pan and add the onion, carrot, garlic, leek, celery and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir over a high heat for 8-10minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften and brown. Add the lemongrass, chilli, ginger, coriander seeds and fennel seeds and stir well. Fry for two more minutes and then stir in tomato paste. Fry for another two minutes until the vegetables are golden brown.
Return all but a few browned crab pieces to the pan (reserve the remaining pieces for reheating the sauce). Pour in the rest of the branding to deglaze, scrapping the bottom of the pan to dislodge the browned sediment. Pour in the fish stock, milk and cream and bring to a simmer, skimming off any froth and scum from the surface. Leave to simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Remove pan from the heat and allow to cool for 20 minutes, then strain the sauce into a bowl. Pass the crab shells and vegetables through a mouli grater into the bowl. Strain the sauce again through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Bring to the boil and boil until reduced by half. Taste the sauce – it should have a deep, rich crab flavour with a hint of spice in the background. Leave to cool then keep refrigerated until needed.
When ready to serve, add the reserved brown crab shells to the sauce and bring to the boil, then strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a warmed serving jug.
Olive Oil Mash
• 1kg potatoes
• 250g unsalted butter
• 100ml whole milk
• 100ml double cream
• 200ml Arbequina olive oil
• Maldon sea salt and black pepper
Peel the potatoes and place them in a large pan. Cover with cold water and add a generous pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer the potatoes for 10–15 minutes or until they are tender. Drain well. Mash the potatoes using a potato ricer, then push the mash through a fine sieve into a bowl. Heat the butter, milk and cream in a heavy-based saucepan. When the butter has melted, and the creamy milk begins to simmer, gradually add the mixture to the mash, mixing well; use a stick blender if it is easier. Slowly incorporate the olive oil in the same manner. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Return the mash to the pan and reheat for serving.
Leave the sea bass until last. Heat a little olive oil in a wide frying pan until hot
Season the fillets with salt and place in the pan skin side down. Fry for 2-3 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and crisp. Turn the fillets over and cook the other side for 1 minute or less – until the fish is cooked through. Remove fillets and leave to rest for a minute.