Chef's Recipes

Tian of crab, tomato, fennel and cucumber with shellfish sauce

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for tian of crab, tomato, fennel and cucumber with shellfish sauce by Rock Restaurant's Andrew Clarke

By Andrew Clarke
  • 15 mins preparation
  • 30 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
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Tian of crab, tomato, fennel and cucumber with shellfish sauce
“I was delighted during a trip to the Hunter Valley to discover Rock Restaurant. I’d love to make Andrew Clarke’s crab tian at home.”
Louise-May Hill, via email
To request a recipe, write to Fare Exchange, , GPO Box 4088, Sydney, NSW 2001, or email us. All requests should include the restaurant’s name and address or business card, as well as your name and address.


  • 4 Roma tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeds removed cut into 1cm dice
  • 1 bulb baby fennel, thinly sliced lengthways using a mandolin
  • 1 small telegraph cucumber, seeds removed and cut into 1cm dice
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 avocado, halved, stone removed and sliced widthways into 5mm slices
  • To serve: chervil sprigs
Shellfish stock
  • 4 cooked blue swimmer crabs (350gm each)
  • 80 ml vegetable oil (1/3 cup)
  • 60 ml white wine (¼ cup)
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 200 ml fish stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
Shellfish sauce
  • 150 ml thickened cream
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Pinch sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp each finely chopped tarragon and flat-leaf parsley leaves


  • 1
    For shellfish stock, working with one crab at a time, lift triangular flap beneath crab and remove, then lift top shell away from body and reserve. Remove gills and discard ‘mustard’. Remove meat, reserving half the shells, place meat in a bowl, cover and refrigerate. Using the back of a large knife, break up reserved shells. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add shells and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes to release oil from shells. Deglaze pan with wine and brandy, add fish stock, season to taste with sea salt, add tomato paste, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing shells to extract all liquid, into a saucepan. Discard shells. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes until reduced to 1/3 cup. Cool.
  • 2
    For shellfish sauce, combine cream, vinegar, mustard and paprika in a bowl. Gradually whisk in shellfish stock, add herbs, stir to combine and refrigerate until required. Makes 1 cup.
  • 3
    Combine tomato, fennel, cucumber and chives in a bowl, drizzle with oil and vinegar and season to taste. Lightly season crab meat and avocado.
  • 4
    Place an 8cm-diameter, 6cm-high ring (see note) in the centre of a plate, arrange ¼ of the avocado in ring, top with 1/8 of the tomato mix, then ¼ of crab, press down gently, then finish with ¹/8 of tomato mix. Press down gently and carefully remove ring. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Drizzle plates with shellfish sauce and serve tians scattered with chervil.


Rings are available from kitchenware shops. Alternatively, use two 8cm-diameter pastry cutters stacked on top of each other.

  • Author: Andrew Clarke