Cornish chilli crab by Jack Stein

Chili Crab - 0228

Singapore, in many ways, is where it all really began for me. Our family had travelled in Europe and eaten oysters and other fruits de mer in Brittany and beyond but in 1985, on a trip to Australia when I was five, my love of seafood really took off. On a stopover in Singapore we went, as usual, to a night market and that’s where I first saw and tasted chilli crab. Maybe it was the jet lag, maybe the unbelievable humidity, but something in the experience opened my senses. I knew crabs, but not like these. Those watching me in the market might have been confused to see a small, pale, ginger-haired kid looking perplexed by his sensory overload, but in fact I was being seduced by the wonderful flavours that the crab dish had to offer. Ever since I have found the combination of eating Asian food at 11pm while jet-lagged to be paradise – and I owe it all to this dish!

My father’s version of chilli crab uses brown crab, which is far fuller-flavoured than the mud crabs used in Singapore. My own recipe is similar to his but with a few tweaks – a classic but with just a little twist.

SERVES 4

2kg boiled brown crab
4 tablespoons groundnut or sunflower oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2.5cm fresh root ginger, finely chopped
3 medium-hot, red, Dutch chillies, finely chopped
4 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon Marmite
2 spring onions, cut into 5cm pieces and finely shredded lengthways
a handful of chopped coriander

Put the crab on its back on the chopping board, so that the claws and softer body section face upwards, then simply twist off the main claws, leaving the legs attached to the body. Now put your thumbs against the hard shell, close to the crab’s tail, and push and prise the body section out and away from the shell. The legs should still be attached to the body. Remove the small stomach sac situated just behind the crab’s mouth and pull away the feather-like gills (‘dead man’s fingers’) which are attached along the edges of the centre part; discard these.

Using a teaspoon, scoop out the brown meat from inside the shell; reserve.

Chop the body into quarters and then cut the main claws in half at the joint. Crack the shells of each piece with a hammer or the blunt edge of a large knife.

Heat the oil, garlic, ginger and chilli in a wok for 1 minute to release their aromas.

Next, turn up the heat and fry off the brown crab meat, then add the ketchup, soy sauce, Marmite and 150ml water. These all add savoury and sweet notes to the finished dish. Now add the remaining crab in its shell and stir-fry the crab for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and finish with spring onions and chopped coriander.

Serve immediately – with lots of finger bowls and napkins, as this is a messy dish.

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Jack Stein’s World on a Plate: Local produce, world flavours, exciting food
£26, Absolute Press

Extract taken from Jack Stein’s World on a Plate by Jack Stein (Absolute Press, £26)
Photography © Paul Winch-Furness

Jack Stein’s World on a Plate

Jack Stein

What’s the USP? A chef’s global travels recorded in recipes.

Who’s the author? If you think you recognize the surname, you’re right. Jack is the son of Rick and since 2017, Chef Director of the Stein restaurant empire, which under his direction has grown from its HQ in Padstow across Cornwall and the south of England. His CV also includes stints at notable restaurants around the globe including La Régalade in Paris and Testsuya in Sydney. World on a Plate is his first cookbook.

What does it look like? The fresh, colourful and appetising dishes (shot by top food photographer Paul Winch-Furness) are interspersed with shots of yer man walking his dog, with his surfboard and chatting to fishermen (any of this sounding familiar, fellow Rick Stein fans?). 

Is it good bedtime reading? The skimpy intro won’t keep you occupied for long but there’s plenty of anecdotes about Stein’s travels and useful cooking tips embedded into the individual recipe introductions.

Will I have trouble finding ingredients? You’ll find the vast majority in the supermarket, but you’ll want to do the Stein name justice by visiting your local fishmonger for some decent fish for langoustine with pastis and sea trout with samphire and beurre blanc.

What’s the faff factor? There’s a nice cross-section of dishes to rustle up when time is tight like crab omelette and more complicated, involved recipes such as guinea fowl terrine.

How often will I cook from the book? With everything from a fish finger sandwich to a Sunday lunch (‘My roast topside of beef), Jack Stein’s World on a Plate won’t be collecting dust on your bookshelf.

Killer recipes? Maple roasted pumpkin with rocket, dukkah and feta; Carl Clarke’s chicken clusters in laksa sauce; lamb shoulder with white miso cream and chicory; babi gulang (Balinese spicy pork with green bean and peanut salad); turbot on the bone roasted with bone marrow sauce.

What will I love? This is truly global cooking with recipes inspired by France, America, China, Australia, Thailand and of course Cornwall, which brings huge variety to the book.

What won’t I like? Stein wanton larder raiding of so many cuisines means you might bankrupt yourself buying all the different ingredients required to prepare the recipes. 

Should I buy it? If you’re looking for inspiration for something a bit different for a mid-week meal to cook at home, this hits the spot. Although you might notice some crossover between father and son’s cookbooks (Jack did a lot of his global travels on family research trips for The Seafood restaurant) Stein Jr has an individual enough voice to make the recipes his own.

Cuisine: Modern British
Suitable for: Confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: 4 stars

Buy this book
Jack Stein’s World on a Plate: Local produce, world flavours, exciting food
£26, Absolute Press

Cook from this book
Cornish Chilli Crab
Green pasta bits
Pineapple tart tatin

The Hidden Hut by Simon Stallard

The Hidden Hut jacket

What’s the USP? Recipes from one of Cornwall’s best-loved beach restaurants, famous for its open-air feast nights.

Who’s the author? Simon Stallard is the chef and owner of The Hidden Hut, a casual beachside restaurant set in ‘an old wooden shed’ on a coastal path near Truro. Stallard worked around the globe from ‘New York to New Delhi’ before settling in Cornwall and opening the Hut in 2010.

What does it look like? The numerous scene-setting photographs mean that you can almost feel the sand between your toes and smell the salty tang of the sea. Reading the Hidden Hut will make you want to jump in the car and immediately head for the south Cornish coast. The colourfully rustic food looks very appealing, the sort of pleasingly unpretentious stuff you just want to get stuck into.

Is it good bedtime reading? Not so much, just a short introduction and a ‘How to cook over fire section’ (cooking over a wood fire in the open air is what Hidden Hut feast nights are all about and Stallard shares his expertise over a 10-page section of the book).

Will I have trouble finding ingredients? You will be at an advantage if you live by the coast and can get your hands on spider crabs, octopus and gurnard, but as long as you can get to a good fishmonger you’ll be fine.

What’s the faff factor? Dishes range from a straightforward mid-week meal of lamb cutlets with butter bean mash and fresh mint sauce to a special-occasion-only slow roasted goat in preserved lemons, but overall the food is about as far from overwrought, tweezered complex restaurant food as you can get.

How often will I cook from the book? With recipes for breakfast (smokey bacon pastries), lunch (chicken and wild garlic soup), picnics (green pea scotch eggs) and parties (seafood paella for 40) as well as lots of delicious dinner ideas, it’s difficult to say when you won’t be cooking from the book.

Killer recipes? Despite the crab on the cover, this is not just a seafood cookbook. In addition to dishes like red-hot mullet with sticky rice balls and cucumber salad and Summer sardines with saffron potatoes and oregano dressing, there’s plenty of meat and veg in the form of 12-hour lamb with smoky aubergine, and samphire frittata with warm lemony courgette salad.

What will I love? There’s a real feel-good factor about the book, open it at any page and you’ll be inspired to get in the kitchen and cook.

What won’t I like? If you want super serious, complex cheffy cooking, this is not the book for you.

Should I buy it? The Hidden Hut is the sort of book with recipes that will become perennial favourites that you’ll find yourself going back to time and time again. So that’s a yes.

Cuisine: Modern British
Suitable for: Confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: 4 stars

Buy this book
The Hidden Hut
£20, HarperCollins

Cook from this book
Buttermilk drop cakes with lemon curd
Chicken and wild garlic soup
Fire-pit wild sea bass with verde sauce

Larder by Robin Gill

9781472948540 (4)

What’s the USP? An urban update on traditional larder-driven cooking based around fermentation, curing, pickling, flavoured butters and oils, stocks, sauces and seasonings.

Who’s the author? Irish-born, London-based chef Robin Gill has revitalized the capital’s dining scene with his distinctive take on top drawer cooking set in casual surroundings at The Diary, Counter Culture and Sorella, all in Clapham.

What does it look like? There’s a distinctly rustic feel to the whole thing with matt finish pages, pictures of Gill on the farm, by the shore or posing with a brace of rabbits and food plated on vintage or earthenware crockery. I wouldn’t want to utter that overused and lazy term ‘hipster’, but you get the idea.

Is it good bedtime reading? Although first and foremost a recipe book, there is plenty of food writing to enjoy in the form of substantial recipe introductions, producer profiles and general musings on cooking techniques and ingredients. The autobiographical introduction provides a fascinating, and at times troubling, look behind the scenes of the restaurant industry.

Will I have trouble finding ingredients?  Cod collars, pig’s head, buffalo milk, Baron Bigod cheese, chardonnay vinegar, espelette pepper and dried wakame mean that you’ll have to look further than your local Tesco for many of the recipes.

What’s the faff factor? Don’t be fooled by the rustic vibe; Gill has worked in some very serious kitchens and although the food is presented in a naturalist way, there’s often lots of work gone into making it all look laid back and simple.

How often will I cook from the book? Because many of the dishes rely on larder recipes (the hint’s in the title) some of which take days, weeks, months or even a year before they are ready, this is more a culinary philosophy that you need to buy into than recipe a book that you can easily dip in and out of.

Killer recipes?  Galician octopus with summer vegetables and nduja brioche; belted Galloway onglet, piatone beans, young garlic and hay; game faggots, celeriac, toasted hazelnuts; white peach with almond skin ice cream, elderflower jelly.

What will I love? The extended larder section provides a real insight into Gill’s style of cooking so you get a real sense of what makes his restaurants so different and special. There is also an excellent selection of inventive cocktails including Panic! At The Pisco made with pisco, white vermouth and rhubarb puree and even a recipe for homemade pumpkin beer.

What won’t I like? The lack of quick and easy dishes. But there’s more than enough of those sort of books knocking about already if that’s more your thing.

Should I buy it? If you want to learn the techniques behind contemporary British restaurant cooking and employ them in your own home (or your own gaff if you’re a chef) this is an essential purchase.

Cuisine: Modern British
Suitable for: Professional chefs and confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: 4 stars

Buy this book 
Larder: From pantry to plate – delicious recipes for your table
£26, Absolute Press

Cook from this book
Loch Duart Salmon Oyster Emulsion, Fennel, Fried Wakame by Robin Gill
Smoked beetroot tartare Cacklebean egg yolk, hazelnut by Robin Gill
Salted Caramel Cacao, Malt Ice Cream by Robin Gill

Salted Caramel Cacao, Malt Ice Cream by Robin Gill

Salted Caramel - 0181One of the first dishes to be created at The Dairy, this recipe has been improved and enhanced by the quality of the chocolate we now use and the addition of a special malt we buy from a local brewery. A well-known chef said this about the dessert: ‘I would run completely naked across the Common just to have that again.’ If you are left with any excess truffles, they can be stored in the freezer and served as petits fours.

Serves 6–8

Chocolate Truffles

50g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
100ml double cream
250g 72% dark chocolate buttons (or chopped dark chocolate)
40g cacao nibs
a pinch of Maldon sea salt
cocoa powder, for dusting

Put the butter in a pan over a high heat and cook until it starts to foam and brown and has a nutty aroma. Stir in the cream, then bring just to the boil.

Pour this mixture over the chocolate in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment. Whisk on a low speed until the chocolate has fully melted. Turn up the mixer speed gradually until the mixture begins to whip. When it is light and aerated, add the cacao nibs and salt, and mix on a high speed briefly to incorporate.

Transfer the mixture to a disposable piping bag and snip off the end. Pipe into lengths (1.5cm in diameter) on greaseproof paper. Freeze before roughly cutting into pieces (about 1.5cm long). Dust with cocoa powder. Keep in the freezer until required.

Chocolate Soil

250g ground almonds
150g demerara sugar
150g buckwheat flour
80g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
140g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C/Gas Mark 4. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and mix to combine.

Spread the mixture on a baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring the mixture every 10 minutes. Allow to cool, then store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Salted Caramel

300g caster sugar
7.5g trimoline
75g unsalted butter, diced
300ml double cream
100g 66% dark chocolate buttons (or chopped dark chocolate)
1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt

Place the sugar and trimoline in a pan. Add a little water to make a ‘wet sand’ consistency. Set over a high heat to melt the sugar, then boil until the syrup reaches a dark caramel stage (165–175°C). Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter a third at a time. Continue whisking until smooth.

In a separate pan, warm the cream until it just reaches boiling point. Pour over the chocolate in a bowl and whisk until smooth and glossy.

Pour the cream/chocolate mixture into the butter caramel and whisk together until smooth. Add the Maldon salt and mix through.

Chocolate Tuile

50g liquid glucose
50ml double cream
125g unsalted butter
155g caster sugar
¾ teaspoon pectin powder
175g cacao nibs

Put the glucose, cream, butter and 150g of the sugar in a pan and melt together. Mix the pectin with the remaining sugar and add to the pan. Boil the mixture until it reaches 107°C. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool down to at least 45°C before folding through the cacao nibs.

Roll out the mixture between sheets of greaseproof paper as thinly as possible. Freeze and keep in the freezer until ready to bake.

Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C/Gas Mark 4. Place the frozen tuile sheet (still with greaseproof paper top and bottom) on a large baking tray and set a large wire rack over the top to hold down the edges of the greaseproof paper. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the tuile is set and doesn’t appear to be liquid when the tray is gently knocked. Allow to cool before breaking into shards. Store in an airtight container.

Malt Ice Cream

375ml double cream
375ml whole milk
35g milk powder
25g trimoline
1 teaspoon Stab 2000 (ice cream stabiliser)
75g malt extract
90g pasteurised egg yolks
65g caster sugar

Put the cream, milk, milk powder, trimoline, Stab and malt extract in a pan. Whisk together and bring to the boil. In a large bowl, mix together the yolks and sugar. Pour a third of the hot mixture over the yolks and sugar and whisk together. Add this to the rest of the hot mixture in the pan and whisk in. Heat until the temperature of the mixture is 85°C.

Pass through a chinois or very fine sieve into a deep tray set over ice to cool the mixture quickly. Once cool, churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store in the freezer.

Assembly

Spoon some of the salted caramel over the bottom of each plate. Sprinkle with a few truffles and scatter over chocolate soil. Add a couple of quenelles of ice cream to each plate and finish with a few tuile shards.

Extract taken from Larder by Robin Gill (Absolute Press, £26)
Photography © Paul Winch-Furness

Cook more recipes from this book:
Loch Duart Salmon Oyster Emulsion, Fennel, Fried Wakame by Robin Gill
Smoked beetroot tartare Cacklebean egg yolk, hazelnut by Robin Gill

Read the review

Buy this book
Larder: From pantry to plate – delicious recipes for your table

Loch Duart Salmon Oyster Emulsion, Fennel, Fried Wakame by Robin Gill

Photographer Paul Winch-FurnessThe oyster emulsion here is an absolute winner. It’s also amazing served as a dip with some oysters in tempura or with a beef tartare. The way the salmon is cooked is a trick I picked up from Raymond Blanc. I’ll never forget tasting it for the first time. It simply blew my mind and taught me to understand the nature of cooking fish. You will often hear chefs say that it takes great skill to cook fish. I slightly disagree. I believe it just requires an understanding. Fish is delicate and in most cases should never be cooked at too high a temperature, otherwise the fish tenses up and an unpleasant white protein appears, which for me is an alarm bell screaming that I have overcooked the fish.

Serves 4

Oyster Emulsion

100g banana shallots, sliced
200ml dry white wine
130g freshly shucked rock oysters (juice reserved)
150ml grapeseed oil
5 sorrel leaves
1 tablespoon crème fraîche

Put the shallots into a saucepan and pour over the white wine. Place on a medium to low heat and boil until all the wine has evaporated. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Tip the shallot mixture and oysters into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. While blending, gradually add the oil to make a mayonnaise consistency. Add the sorrel leaves and blend through, then blend in some of the reserved oyster juice to loosen the mixture. Stir in the crème fraîche. Keep the emulsion in the fridge until ready to serve.

Fried Wakame

200ml vegetable oil, for frying
50g dried wakame

Heat the oil in a deep pan to 160°C. Fry the wakame for 1½ minutes or until crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

Assembly

250g Cured Salmon (see Larder)
8 slices Fennel Kimchi (see Larder)
dill fronds
fennel fronds

Portion the salmon into four pieces. Place a spoon of oyster emulsion on each plate and add a piece of salmon to the side. Arrange the fennel kimchi and fried wakame around the fish. Garnish with dill and fennel.

Extract taken from Larder by Robin Gill (Absolute Press, £26)
Photography © Paul Winch-Furness

Cook more recipes from this book:
Smoked beetroot tartare Cacklebean egg yolk, hazelnut by Robin Gill
Salted Caramel Cacao, Malt Ice Cream by Robin Gill

Read the review

Buy this book
Larder: From pantry to plate – delicious recipes for your table

Smoked beetroot tartare Cacklebean egg yolk, hazelnut by Robin Gill

Photographer Paul Winch-FurnessI’ve become slightly obsessed with smoking things. I started with the obvious, salmon, and moved on to meat like game, pigeon and venison, then to bone marrow (our smoked bone marrow butter became kind of legendary). We even started smoking ice creams. Playing around with smoking fruit and vegetables was exciting and opened up so many possibilities. Beetroot worked immediately. It’s one of my favourite vegetables because of its versatility. I find the large ruby beetroot to be quite meaty so we thought up a play on a beef tartare. But not in the way of veggie burgers and vegan sausages. I hate that stuff! It is kind of fun to dress this tartare as you would imagine it being served in a Parisian brasserie.

Serves 6

Hung Yoghurt

200g plain yoghurt

Line a large sieve with muslin and set it over a deep bowl. Put the yoghurt into the sieve, then gather up the edges of the cloth and secure them together. Leave in the fridge overnight to allow the liquid to drain out of the yoghurt (this liquid or whey can be reserved and used in ferments).

Smoked Beetroot

500g raw beetroots
a drizzle of vegetable oil
rock salt
applewood chips for smoking

Preheat the oven to 190°C fan/210°C/Gas Mark 6–7. Drizzle each beetroot with oil, sprinkle with salt and wrap individually in foil. Bake for 1–1½ hours or until the core temperature reaches 90°C. Remove from the oven and allow to cool and steam in the foil for 15 minutes. Remove from the foil and rub off the skins.

Take a flat tray with a steam insert (such as a deep roasting tray that will hold a flat steaming rack) and spread the applewood chips over the bottom of the tray. Warm the tray over a medium heat until the chips start to smoke, then turn the heat down to low. Place the beetroot on the steam insert/steaming rack and set this over the smoking chips. Completely cover the top and sides tightly with oven-safe clingfilm so the smoke is sealed inside with the beetroot. Leave to lightly smoke for 7 minutes. Remove the beetroot from the tray and leave to cool.

Brined Egg Yolks

500ml 7% brine (see note below)
10 egg yolks (we use CackleBean) – this allows for a few breakages
a drizzle of vegetable oil

Pour the brine into a deep bowl. Gentle add the yolks using your hands or a slotted spoon. Cover the surface of the brine with the vegetable oil so that the yolks are held down in the brine. Allow the yolks to brine for 1 hour at room temperature. To serve, gently remove the yolks with your hands or a slotted spoon.

Assembly

240g Fermented Beetroot (see Larder)
1 tablespoon Shallot Vinegar (see Larder)
2 tablespoons capers
a drizzle of Ember Oil (see Larder)
Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper
handful fresh hazelnuts, finely sliced
bittercress or watercress to garnish

Mince the fermented and smoked beetroot through a mincer or chop finely with a knife. Season with the shallot vinegar, capers, ember oil and some salt and pepper. Using a small ring mould, make a disc of the beetroot mixture in the centre of each plate. Top with a layer of the hazelnut slices. Gently place a brined egg yolk to the side of each disc. Garnish with cracked black pepper and bittercress or watercress. Place a spoonful of the hung yoghurt to the side of each disc.

NOTE:
Salt and brines: A brine is a mixture of salt and water. The salt is added to the water and brought just to the boil to dissolve the salt, then allowed to cool before use. We make brines of different strengths based on the amount of salt that is added. This is expressed as a percentage in relation to the amount of water. So, for example, a 2% brine means that the weight of salt added is 2% of the weight of the water. In other words, for a litre of water (which weighs 1kg) you would need to add 20g of salt.

Extract taken from Larder by Robin Gill (Absolute Press, £26)
Photography © Paul Winch-Furness

Cook more recipes from this book:
Salted Caramel Cacao, Malt Ice Cream by Robin Gill
Loch Duart Salmon Oyster Emulsion, Fennel, Fried Wakame by Robin Gill

Read the review

Buy this book
Larder: From pantry to plate – delicious recipes for your table