You know those recipes that are inextricably linked to childhood memories and take on a kind of mythical status in a family? Well this is one. It's based on the Crab Ramekins of the Seaview Hotel, a boaty, yachtie little hotel in the equally boaty, yachtie town of Seaview on the Isle of Wight.
The taste is so distinctive; the recipe was always something of a secret as it was such a popular dish for the hotel restaurant.
After many a family holiday as children, we have made repeated pilgrimages to this seaside town on the Isle of Wight. It really convinces me that there is not much point taking young kids to exotic destinations. The best holidays are those where memories are made and then repeated, year after year, taking on a ritualistic status. I still remember the excitement of coming back to the same little seaside flat, finding so much joy in its little details, that to an adult would seem so mundane. The musical loo roll holder. The bunk beds. The trolley for wheeling dinner plates into the front room. The ice cream shop. The stationers/ craft shop that was like an Aladdin's cave. So reassuringly the same, year after year.
And then of course the unforgettable taste of those Crab Ramekins. Eaten outside on the terrace of the Seaview hotel, feeling a bit chilly on cold aluminium chairs, a slightly stronger breeze than you'd like coming off the cold-looking Solent, dotted with wooden sail boats.
My clever mother eventually worked out what the secret ingredient was. It's Tarragon.
I'd go as far as saying there's really no point making this if you don't have tarragon, so key is it to that sweet, herbal depth of flavour that marries so well with that indescribable umami flavour of brown crab meat.
We enjoyed it with a bottle of Meursault. What are these isolated days for if not to raid the wine fridge?
Apparently Meursault nowadays is supposed to be much less fat and plump than it used to be, in the good old days. Meursault has always traditionally been the richest and roundest of the 3 famous Beaune villages (Chassagne Montrachet and Puligny Montrachet being the other two). But those in the know say things have changed.
Since so many bottles oxidised before their time, (the "premox (premature oxidation) scandal" of the 1990's, 2000's) producers are much more careful about using too much oak (and therefore oxygen) in the winemaking process. Well, drinking this wine, you would never know! This guy is definitely not pretending to be on a diet. It's easily one of the most caramel, butterscotch-y Burgundies I've ever had -- just how I like it. And it's available through my shop at the moment, while stocks last.
A perfect pairing with a lovely rich seafood dish. It might not look much in the photo, but you just wait....
CHEESY CRAB RAMEKINS
Serves 4 when served as individual ramekins or 2 very greedy people (like us) as a main meal, served as one large bake.
Serve with warm crusty bread and salted butter.
2 pots of mixed Crab meat - e.g Seafood & Eat It Cornish Fifty Fifty Crab. Just be sure you have some brown meat in there.
1-2 x Shallots, finely chopped
2 tbsp Breadcrumbs
3 tbsp finely chopped Tarragon
Juice of 1 Lemon
Dash of Worchestershire sauce
3 tbsp Double cream
1 tbsp French mustard
2 large handfuls of grated Mature Cheddar Cheese
Salt & Pepper
- Squeeze the lemon over the crab.
- Fry the shallots in oil til softened.
- Once softened, add all the ingredients together in the pan, (saving a large handful of cheese for the topping).
- Put the mixture into your serving dish(es) of choice, and top with cheese. Grill 'til golden brown and then serve immediately with warm, crusty bread and salted butter.