crab bisque with fennel, tomato + tarragon

Something magical happened to me the day Rick Stein came to town . I love, love, love this recipe. Delicate and pretty but so full of flavour, this bisque is more simple than it first seems. I've changed the recipe to use any crab, so it's home-cook friendly. I would suggest Blue Swimmer or Sand Crabs.

  • 2-3 crab, cleaned
  • grapeseed oil, for frying
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 bulb fennel, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped tarragon
  • 65ml pernod
  • 65ml white wine
  • 1L fish stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 65ml verjuice
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste

To Serve:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 baby fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp chopped tarragon
  • 12 heirloom tomatoes, quartered
  • dill sprigs
  • nasturtium flowers
  • 2 tsp trout roe
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. To prepare the bisque, chop 1 crab into small pieces and fry in grapeseed oil in a large saucepan set over high heat. Add carrot, leek, onion, garlic, fennel and celery and fry until softened. Add parsley and tarragon and fry for 2 minutes. Add pernod and white wine and cook for 3-4 minutes until alcohol is evaporated. Add fish stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer gently for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Add lemon juice, tomatoes, verjuice, dill and some black pepper, to taste, and allow to simmer another 10 minutes. Strain into a clean saucepan and return to the heat.
  3. Add cream and season with salt and pepper and set aside, keeping warm.
  4. Meanwhile, to prepare the crab, bring a saucepan of well salted water to a boil. Cut remaining crabs in half and add to simmering water. Cook gently for 5 minutes. Remove from water and immediately place into an ice bath.
  5. Once crab is cool, remove meat and set aside.
  6. To serve, place butter and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add fennel and fry until softened and lightly caramelised. Remove from heat, add parsley and tarragon and season.
  7. Place crab meat in the bottom of serving bowl, using a ring as a guide. Place fried fennel on top of crab. Arrange heirloom tomatoes, dill, flowers and trout roe on top. Pour bisque around bowl and season with salt.