Dorset crab on toast

by Richard Kirkwood

Fresh crab crostinis from new demo chef and Wright Brothers head chef Richard Kirkwood


100ml white wine vinegar
200g fennel, white onion and leek, finely chopped
1 star anise
2 garlic cloves
1 live crab, around 800g, placed in the freezer for 10 mins
1 red chilli, finely diced
1 shallot, finely diced
Rapeseed oil, for frying
25ml sweet sherry
1 lemon, juiced
4 slices of sourdough bread
100ml good quality mayonnaise
50g cucumber, finely diced
1 bunch of dill, finely chopped


Bring 1 litre water, white wine vinegar, chopped fennel, onion, leek, star anise and one clove of garlic to the boil. When boiling, add salt, then taste the water. You want the water to taste like the sea, this will impart better flavour to the finished crab meat.

When the water is seasoned, take the crab out of the freezer and plunge into the boiling water for 8-10 mins. Remove from the water and chill in iced water. When cold, place on a board ready to crack.

Firstly, remove the claws and set aside. Then place the crab upside down and, while holding the legs with your fingers, place the thumbs on the body and ease it from the top shell. Remove the brown meat from the top shell and set aside.

Remove the dead lady’s fingers and cut the body in half between the legs. There is white meat in all the joints and nooks and crannies, so take your time to remove it and place in a separate bowl. The body and head can be frozen to be used later.

Next, crack the claws with the back of a spoon. Remove the shell and pick out the white meat, placing it in the bowl. Continue doing this until all the white meat has been collected. Place the white crab meat on a clean tray and carefully pick through it to ensure there is no shell or cartilage remaining.

Meanwhile, fry the diced chilli and shallot in a little oil until softened, add the brown crab meat and the sherry and cook until all the flavours have bonded together. Finish with lemon juice, salt and pepper. This can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

To serve, toast the bread and spread with the brown crab pâté. Mix the white crab meat with the mayonnaise, cucumber and dill and pile onto the toast.

Recipe: Richard Kirkwood