Monday 8 August 2011

blue swimmer crab bisque

I have always wanted to make a bisque, a seafood soup heavily flavoured by the shells of crustaceans.

The word bisque sounds so uplifting and fresh, a perfect image for any seafood dish. It seems the etymology of bisque seems to come from the Bay of Biscay, that rather large bite of land missing between Spain and France. Makes sense, no?

Keen to give bisque a whirl, I was pretty excited when I was allocated the Spider Crab Bisque as part of the Murdoch Book's 365 Challenge to cook every recipe from Stéphane Reynaud's 365 Good Reasons to Sit Down to Eat.

The original recipe uses spider crabs, only there weren’t any at my poissonnerie, so I opted for gorgeous blue swimmer crabs. Their azure shells are so photogenic.

The recipe is extremely easy to make and produces a perfect bisque. The extreme shellfish flavour really comes through, with chunks of crab meat adding texture to the velvety soup.

Only problem . . . it seems I don’t actually like bisque.

The moment the soup hit my lips I remembered, with utter disappointment, having eaten this soup in many fine French restaurants, and even at my mother’s table, and never having liked it!

After all the preparation and investment, I couldn’t believe I had forgotten this simple fact.

But don’t let my forgetfulness put you off: this recipe is perfect, so if you like bisque you’ll just love it!

Crab Bisque

Recipe from 365 Good Reasons to Sit Down to Eat by Stéphane Reynaud. Serves 6.

6 fresh spider or blue swimmer crabs
2 potatoes
2 carrots
2 french shallots (eschalots)
3 tablespoons olive oil
250ml (1 cup) white wine
2 very ripe tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrated puree)
200ml pouring (whipping) cream
Salt and pepper


1. Poach the spider crabs in a large volume of water for 15 minutes.

2. Remove the meat from the shells (this will take a little time) and using a lobster pick, empty out each of the spider crab claws. Also get the roe found in the body cavity.

3. Rinse out the body shells of the crabs in water. They will be used, to our great delight, as tureens for the bisque. Ah, Brittany, the joys you bestow upon us.

4. Peel the potatoes and carrots, cut them into cubes.

5. Peel and slice the shallots.

6. Sauté three-quarters of the shallots with the carrots and potatoes in the olive oil, moisten with the white wine.

7. Add three-quarters of the crabmeat, the tomato and tomato paste, cook for 20 minutes.

8. Add the cream, then puree and season. Serve the bisque in the crab shells, (oh, it's so beautiful).

9. Add the rest of the crabmeat and a few shallot rings.

1 comment:

  1. How funny that it wasn't until the first taste that you remembered you didn't like it! The pictures of the crab are gorgeous!


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