Something deep in the lizard-bit of my brain seems to be saying that I need to eat more fish. Ever alert to what my inner lizard is telling me, I’ve been eating a lot of seafood this week. And when the weather’s warm and humid, nothing is nicer than a glass of wine and some chilled crab pate on Melba toast.
Dressed crab is always curiously inexpensive in the supermarket – doubly curious, when you consider how delicious it is, and how easy it is to work with, all ready-shucked and packed in its own carapace, so you don’t have to be a chef at Hotels in Blackpool or a Michelin Star winner to be able to turn it into something incredible. To make enough pate for two smug fish-lovers, you’ll need:
1 dressed crab
2 tablespoons melted butter
Leafy parts of a stick of celery
½ teaspoon quince jelly (if you can’t get hold of quince jelly, use redcurrant)
1 teaspoon tarragon leaves
Small handful chervil
Juice of half a lemon
½ clove crushed garlic
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Put all the ingredients in the blender and whizz until you have a fine purée. Pack the resulting pate into a greased mould (I used a silicone muffin mould, which looks like a timbale mould in shape, but is easier to handle) and chill for an hour, until the pate is firm enough to turn out in one piece. Dress with chives and some more chervil.
The tiny amount of fruit jelly in this really brings out the strangely fruity sweetness of the crab. We ate the pate with Melba toast, which is delicious and looks dreadfully complicated. It’s actually simplicity itself. Just toast white sliced bread in the toaster as usual, and when it’s done, slice off the crusts. Separate the two sides of the slice of toast from each other by pushing a sharp knife through the soft bread in the middle of the slice, and grill the white side of each bifurcated toastlet under the grill until it’s golden and curling. Pour a glass of Semillion Chardonnay and get munching.