4snow crabs or 500gm picked crabmeat80 ml(1/3 cup) olive oil6golden shallots, finely chopped2garlic cloves, finely chopped1long red chilli, finely chopped2vine-ripened tomatoes, halved, flesh grated (discard skins)50 mldry sherry50 gmfresh breadcrumbs from soft white bread1 tbsp eachfinely chopped flat-leaf parsley and chervil1 tspfinely chopped tarragon50 gmbutter, diced
Place crabs in freezer for 30 minutes to render them insensible.
Bring a large stockpot of salted water to the boil over high heat. Add crabs, cover and bring to the boil, then cook until crabs turn orange and are just cooked (8 minutes). Drain (reserve 50ml cooking liquid) and set aside to cool (1-2 hours).
Meanwhile, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic and chilli, sauté until shallot is soft and translucent (4-6 minutes). Add tomato flesh and sherry, stir occasionally until thick (10-15 minutes), season to taste, stir to combine. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 200C. Combine breadcrumbs and herbs in a bowl, set aside. Remove top shell from crab, clean under cold running water, set aside. Discard gills and coral from crab, then pick meat from crabs and place in a bowl. Add tomato mixture and reserved stock, stir to combine, then divide among crab shells (or bowls, if you’re using picked crabmeat), top with an even layer of breadcrumb mixture and dot butter over each. Roast on an oven tray until golden (15 minutes) and serve hot or warm.
Our snow crab looks very different from the Spanish txangurro,
or spider crab, which has a prickly shell. You could use any type
of crab, although your yield of crabmeat will vary. If you're
entertaining, have the crab mixture ready to go the day before, as
the picking can be quite fiddly and time consuming. Or, if you can
get your hands on top-notch picked crabmeat, just bake the mixture
in ovenproof bowls.