Crab bisque and mussels in garlic and white wine

This week's recipes take us back to the sea with a celebration of two classic shellfish dishes.

Prized for its soft texture and its delicate, sweet taste, crab is a fantastic meat to cook with and is low in fat. It's popularly served as crab claws, crab cakes, or within fish pies and curries, but my recipe this week is an authentic crab bisque – a smooth, creamy seafood soup, luxurious in both flavour and in texture.

Next up, we have a gastro classic – mussels, served in a creamy garlic and white wine sauce with warm crusty bread for dipping. A simple, yet delightful dish that really shows off the wonderful flavour of this tender meat.


Crab Bisque (Serves 2)

Shells, legs and claws from 2 brown crabs

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

1 carrot

1 stick celery

3 cloves garlic

1 bulb fennel

350ml white wine

4 tbsp brandy

400g tinned tomatoes

1 star anise

1 bay leaf

4 sprigs thyme

pinch saffron

3 tbsp uncooked basmati rice

75ml double cream



Break down your crab to main shell, claws and legs. Break down the shell as much as you can as you will need to blend this at a later stage. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add your onion, carrot, celery, fennel and garlic. Cook gently for 15 minutes until soft.

Add the crab into the mix and stir for a few minutes. Next, add the brandy and turn the heat up. Let the mix bubble for one minute then add the wine and keep on a high heat. Cook for two minutes.

Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, star anise, thyme, saffron and rice. Cover with one litre of water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, leave on a simmer for 80 minutes, stirring occasionally but keep the lid on the pot. Taste the mix at this stage – it should be rich.

Using a blender, blend as much as you can, including the shell. Once blended, pass through a sieve, pushing down to get all the remaining juice through. Place back in the pot and cook, adding the double cream. When ready to serve you can dress with some white crab meat and lots of olive oil.


Traditional mussels (Serves 2)

1.8kg of mussels

1 knob butter, unsalted

4 clove garlic

1 onion

1 glass dry white wine

3 tbsp double cream

Fresh parsley




Before cooking, discard any mussels which do not close tight once given a tap on your work-surface counter. Wash and debeard all the mussels. In a large saucepan melt the butter over a high heat. Finely chop the garlic and onion and cook for one minute. Add in the wine and bring to the boil.

Next, add in the mussels and pop the lid back on the pot. Cook for four minutes or until the mussels are opened. Discard any mussels that have not opened in the cooking process. Stir in the cream and dress with chopped parsley. Serve with warm crusty bread especially for dipping into the delicious sauce.

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