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I’ve got crabs

This past weekend Eat My Words hosted its AGM at The River Cafe.

On the agenda were global rollout plans, synergies, and needle-moving strategies. On the menu was this week’s recipe for crab, aioli and grilled flatbread.

Sadly we didn’t get round to the former. Fortunately we devoured the latter, all while having dinner with Venus and Serena Williams and Ruth Rogers (The River Cafe’s founder). They heard we were in the hood.

This week’s album: 
Dinner Party by Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin & 9th Wonder

A great EP from four individuals that came together to “just make something that feels good to the heart.” It fuses hip-hop and jazz, highlights a shared history of protest, yet remains very laid back. Terrace Martin helped produce Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ and has also worked with the likes of Snoop Dogg and Stevie Wonder.

A London institution

Regular readers (i.e. our Mums - morning Fi and Nicola) will know this isn’t the first time The River Cafe has been the inspiration for an EMW recipe.

Chocolate nemesis is a classic of their’s, while our sautéed squid with tomato, chilli, oregano, and rocket dish has strong links to this institution.

On Saturday it was a crab dish that grabbed our attention. So simple but unbelievably pleasing… Dressed crab, aioli, green beans. Minimal fuss, maximum impact.

If you look really closely, and heavily squint your eyes, you’ll see Venus and Serena Williams talking about us in the background.

We’re going to do similar but swap the green beans for grilled flatbreads (which are really easy to make). The dough requires a bit of resting time (about 60 mins) but the crab and aioli can be prepared while this is happening.

You can cook the flatbreads in a really hot frying pan but a chargrill or BBQ provides the best results as the flavour of the charring works so well with the sweet crab and rich aioli.

If you’re having a BBQ then this makes a great starter. It’s super fresh and vibrant, and you can use the BBQ when it’s at its hottest to cook the flatbreads.

You can cook and pick your own crab but most fishmongers, and a number of supermarkets, will supply good-quality picked crab. The hard work will have been done for you but it's always worth emptying the crab onto a baking tray and running your fingertips through the crab to double check for any shell. Better to find it like this than when you start to eat.

What you need

The below serves 4. It takes 30 mins to prep (plus 60 mins of resting) and 5 mins to cook.

4g fast-action dried yeast
250g bread flour
6g sugar
6g salt
2 tbsps olive oil

400g white crab meat
50g brown crab meat
2 lemons (juice of 1, the other cut into wedges)
4 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
10g flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
Sea salt & black pepper

1 egg yolk
1 garlic clove (finely grated)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 pinch sea salt
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp water
70ml vegetable oil
70ml extra-virgin olive oil

Ready, steady, cook

1. Add 185g of body-temp water to the bowl of a KitchenAid/stand mixer, followed by the yeast, flour and sugar. Mix, using a dough hook on a low speed for 30 seconds. Leave for 15 mins (this gives time for the water to hydrate the flour), then mix on a medium speed for 10 mins. Add in the salt and mix again.

NOTE: adding the salt at the end means you won’t harm the yeast and you prevent the dough from rising.

2. Divide the dough into 4 balls. Place on an oiled tray and cover with an oiled piece of cling film. Leave to rest for 60 mins in a warm place.

3. For the aioli: add the egg yolk, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, mustard and water to a measuring jug that fits a hand/stick blender. Blend everything together until fully combined. Add the oils, as slowly as possible, with the blender continuously running.

The mixture will start to thicken as the oils emulsify with the egg yolk. As this happens you can start to add the oils a little quicker. Check the seasoning for salt and acidity levels and set aside when happy.

4. Add the crab meat to a bowl along with the lemon juice, olive oil, parsley and salt and pepper. Check the seasoning (we want the flavour of the crab to shine through so the salt and lemon juice should complement rather than overpower). Divide the crab and aioli between four plates and set aside while we finish the flatbreads.

5. Heat a chargrill/BBQ until very hot. Alternatively, heat a large non-stick frying pan until very hot. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough until about 1 cm thick.

Brush one side of each piece of dough with a little olive oil and then carefully transfer to the hot grill, laying them oiled side down. Brush a little oil on the now exposed side and flip after 60 seconds. Remove from the grill and keep warm while you cook the remaining flatbreads.

6. Once all the flatbreads are cooked, cut them into slices. Divide amongst the plates of crab and aioli, and serve each one with a wedge of lemon. Alternatively, put everything in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves.
Final thought

Tomorrow’s my birthday which means two things…

1. If you haven’t messaged me by 7am then we’re no longer friends. 2. It’s time to revisit this Birthday lemon tart with limoncello-laced mascarpone.

Speak next week.


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Eat My Words · Kew Gardens · Kew, TW9 · United Kingdom

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