Keeping it simple and fresh with crab meat

Serve with a smoked cheese custard for a light starter with crisp rye crackers

With the weather warming up and the days getting longer, I am thinking more often of eating outside. Though the sun can be brief in its appearances in the west of Ireland, when it shines, it certainly is glorious. Living by the sea does have its benefits on balmy days and nights.

Though many of us will not relish cooking a whole crab, picked white crab meat is now widely available in most supermarkets. I especially love the Lambay Island crab meat, which is available both fresh and frozen.

While it is quite common to dress crab meat with a spoon or two of mayonnaise, I prefer to try and keep it as fresh as possible. A little cold-pressed rapeseed oil and a touch of salt and acidity is all that is required.

White crab meat embraces fresh green herbs. My own chives, which have been taking care of themselves since I planted them last year, would work wonderfully with the crisp freshness of the meat. Crab and cheese work well together too, and often in the restaurant we cover the dressed crab meat with a smoked cheese custard. This can be served warm or cold as a light starter with some nice crisp rye crackers.

How to make crab with smoked cheese custard

Bring 150ml of cream and 150ml milk to the boil. Whisk in 100g of grated smoked cheese (Gubbeen or Knockanore are two of my favourites). Place four egg yolks in large bowl and pour the liquid gradually over the eggs, whisking all the time to avoid scrambling. Season to taste with a pinch of sea salt. Place in a bowl over boiling water and cook until the custard thickens. Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Pick through the crab meat to check for shell, and season with the oil, lemon juice and zest and salt. Add some chopped green herbs if you are using them. Place the crab in the bottom of a ramekin and pour the custard over the top. Eat immediately or allow to set in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.

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