Cocktail Crab Cakes

4 June 2013

If I had to choose my favourite meal, it would include lobster or crab, but only from Harwich. We are extremely lucky to have a regular supply of locally landed shellfish from Gary ‘the crab’ Hambling.  We serve his lobsters year-round and his beautiful dressed crabs have recently made an appearance on our spring menu.

Crab is extremely versatile. Served chilled with lemon and herb mayonnaise, or a simple vinaigrette, it makes a simple and healthful meal. We use it in soups, salads and tarts, but one of the most popular menu items was inspired by my Mom. Her cocktail crab cakes were always a hit at drinks parties in the 70’s and the tradition lives on here in Mistley. We tend to serve them three or four on a plate as a starter, but they are equally good as a main course. I like to serve them with a little watercress salad tossed with mustard vinaigrette and some new potatoes drizzled with parsley butter.  This recipe makes about 30 small bites.


For the Crab Mixture

375g (12 oz) crab meat, a mixture of white and dark meat

2 thick slices of good quality white bread, slightly stale and broken into small crumbs

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons finely chopped red pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped green pepper

1 large shallot, finely chopped

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste

3 tablespoons  fresh coriander leaves and tender stems, finely chopped

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

vegetable oil for frying


Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the crab meat and bread crumbs in a medium bowl. Add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chopped peppers, shallots, Tabasco sauce, coriander and mayonnaise. Mix well and taste for seasoning. Add a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the mixture into approx. 1 ½ tablespoon portions, and form into small cakes. (Can be made ahead up to 24 hours and refrigerated).

Heat about 4 tablespoons oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Working in batches of 6 to 7, place the crab cakes in the pan and cook until golden brown, about 30 seconds to a minute, then turn and cook the other side. Transfer the cakes to a tray lined with kitchen roll to absorb the excess oil, and then transfer to a baking sheet.  To serve, bake the cakes in a hot oven for 7 to 10 minutes, and serve warm with some good mayonnaise and fresh lemon.


22 May 2012

4 generous portions

  • 500g thin asparagus, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons fruity olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium leeks, white part plus 2cm of the green part chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 300g tender nettle leaves, rinsed thoroughly and dried
  • 2 to 3 litres vegetable or chicken stock
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • lemon juice, to taste


Slice the asparagus spears into 2cm pieces, reserving the tips

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, leeks and potatoes stirring occasionally. Cook until the mixture begins to colour slightly, about 10 minutes.

Add 2 litres of stock and simmer, partially covered for 10 minutes after which time, add the asparagus stalks and the nettle leaves. Simmer the mixture a further 10 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes and asparagus stalks are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Using a hand held blender or food processor puree the soup until smooth. Pass the mixture through a food mill or sieve into a clean saucepan. Make sure that you press the solids through with the back of a spoon, discarding the fibrous bits.

Return the soup to the stove. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. If the soup appears too thick, add more stock to thin out the mixture. If on the other hand, the soup is too thin, bring the heat up to high and reduce the soup to the desired consistency. Add sea salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Add asparagus tips and simmer until tender, about 4 minutes. Serve hot or cold.


This soup can be made substituting watercress, rocket or spinach for the nettle leaves. It is also very nice to throw a handful of fresh mint leaves, flat leaf parsley or tarragon into the soup before pureeing. It is also great with a handful of crispy croutons, a grating of pecorino cheese or a swirl of cream added before serving.