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Blue swimmer crab filo pastry parcels with tomato, lime and Thai basil sorbet - Wed, 2nd Mar 2011
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Blue swimmer crab looked good at the market, and combining it with a couple of bugs meant I got a bit more meat for my money. The sorbet was a bit of an odd idea, but turned out to be a hit. Suck it and see. Note that you can make a sorbet without an ice cream machine, but it's a bit more work and uses a few more egg whites. Google it for a few ideas. I'd suggest starting this a day in advance (as I did for the podcast) as picking crab meat takes ages.

For the sorbet:
5 very ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed and roughly chopped 4 tbsp caster sugar
100ml water 1 egg white
handful of thai basil leaves, chiffonaded grated rind and juice of 1 lime
red food dye (if desired)  
For the parcels:
4 fresh blue swimmer crabs 2 fresh moreton bay bugs (other bugs are fine, too)
1 packet of filo pastry (you can make own if you're a purist/masochist) 300ml Chinese rice wine
~10cm piece of ginger, finely sliced 100ml Shiwan miju
3 shallots, finely sliced 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsp brown sugar ~80ml light soy
1 coconut, half shaved, half grated bucket of ice
1 bunch coriander 100ml coconut cream
2 long red chillies, finely sliced 50ml fish sauce
3 lime leaves, chiffonaded ~100gm butter
bunch garlic chives

Get the sorbet into the freezer first: Combine the sugar, lime juice and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for about 5 mins, so you end up with a syrup, then combine with the lime rind and tomatoes in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the egg white into the blender while running and blend until pale. Season with salt (a good pinch) then add a few drops of red dye if desired. Yes, I cheated. Sue me. (Without the dye the sorbet will obviously taste fine, but will look almost white). Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir through the basil, then process in your ice cream machine (mine takes about 50 minutes). Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze until about 10 minutes before serving time (let it soften a bit before serving time).

For the crabs, heat a little oil in a large pan which has a lid (you'll need a lid later) and gently fry one sliced shallot, 2 cloves garlic and half the ginger until tender, but do not brown. Add half the rice wine, shiwan miju, soy, and brown sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then add the crabs and bugs and steam until the shells have just coloured orange: you're going to cook the meat further, so you don't need it fully cooked yet, just enough to pull away from the shell. For me, it took about 5 minutes and I did them in two batches to fit. If the liquid gets low, top up with a little water, but it should be fine. Remove the crabs and bugs to an ice bath to cool and stop cooking. Save the steaming liquid.

Once cool, remove the crab legs and save for later in the fridge. Pick the meat from the crabs and bugs and discard the shells. Bring the steaming liquid back to the boil and add the coconut, coconut cream, fish sauce, chillies and lime leaves. Season with salt and a little white pepper if desired. Add the crab/bug meat and 3/4 of the coriander and remove from the heat immediately. At this point, I refrigerated the mixture until the next day.

Preheat the oven to about 200C fan-forced. Have a clean tea-towel standing by to cover the filo pastry whenever it's not in use so it doesn't dry out. Spread a sheet of filo on a clean dry board, brush lightly with melted butter, add another sheet at 45 degree angle and so on until your have four or five sheets (I used six sheets at the podcast dinner, but I think there was too much pastry). Place 1/6 of the crab mixture in the middle of the pastry and lift the corners to form a parcel. Twist slightly to help seal it, then secure with a tied garlic chive (yes, they break a lot. Deal with it.) Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, repeat the preparation of the steaming liquid in a pan, using the rest of the ingredients (fry garlic, ginger, shallot, then add liquids). Steam the reserved crab claws in this liquid until reheated. Timing is important here - don't put them in until you're almost ready to serve, or they'll sit around and be cold and overcooked. Plate up a spoonful (or pastille if you're artistically inclined) of sorbet on a bed of asian herbs (I used basil, coriander and Vietnamese mint). I used hot plates to keep the crab and parcel warm, but put the sorbet and leaves on a small ceramic dish to keep it from melting. Place the crab claw on the plate and the golden brown parcel on top, covering the 'ugly' end of the crab claw. A little sprinkle of ground Sezchuan pepper can add a nice zing, too.

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